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and the transit of said vessels through the canal shall be affected with the least possible delay, in accordance with the regulations in force.”
Then again “Vessels of war of a belligerent shall not remain in such waters longer than twenty-four hours at any one time, except in case of distress, and in such case, shall depart as soon as possible ; but a vessel of war of one belligerent shall not depart within twenty-four hours from the departure of a vessel of war of the other belligerent.”
Those are some of the sections of Article III., the first section of which is always quoted and from which alone we are permitted to draw certain deductions. Every one that understands the practicabili. ties that go to the root of bills in the national legislature, knows that we harken back to the constitution for the power to carry on public works or to pass any law. The only power under which we had to build the Panama Canal was that of exercise of the war power of the United States; and two Presidents have affirmed this by the fact that they have said that the canal would be a ready means of passing our fleet from one ocean to the other in time of war.
Therefore the provisions just quoted were based upon a condition of war. The provision that a belligerent should not stay in the canal for over twenty-four hours is based entirely upon that condition.
Suppose we are at war with some nation. There is not a man in this Chamber who will assume that we are to hold that canal open to our enemy or that we are to allow him to use it as he likes. No one will contend that if we are a belligerent and our ships are in the canal and our enemy's ship is there, we must give notice to our ships to leave the canal within twenty-four hours and if they do not do so we must turn the guns of our forts on them and compel them to leave. But you cannot come to any conclusion or draw any other deduction from the arguments that were given by those who oppose this measure.
But there is another point which is of tremendous importance. You will find that the word “neutrality” has been twisted and turned in this country so as to be given an altogether misleading interpretation.
Now, since the Tory views seem to have had a great deal of say in the interpretation and understanding of this matter, I will quote from one of the leading international lawyers of the world, DR. L. OPPENHEIM of the Universities of London and Basle.
“Neutrality,” he says, “is an attitude during a condition of war only.” “Rights and duties derived from neutrality do not exist during the cessation of war." I refer too to General GEORGE B. Davis, a great American authority upon international law. We have him saying that a neutral state may be defined as one standing apart and taking no hand in an existing war and rendering no aid or service to either belligerent.
In other words, the United States can only be neutral during a time of war. It would have been perfectly ridiculous to have drawn this treaty in any other way, because you gentlemen know that in time of peace the use of docks, harbors and canals for men-o-war is upon the same basis as commercial vessels. We find ourselves here first with a treaty which shows, by careful reading, that there is absolutely no way by which we can take a stand other than to treat the vessels of war and commerce of all other nations upon terms of entire equality as we are by the treaty placed in a class apart. Further than that, these rules are drawn and put in the treaty for that purpose only, and it is so stated in the treaty itself, that the idea of these rules is to preserve the neutrality of the canal, and that all authorities upon international law define neutrality as a condition which exists only in time of war.
I thoroughly understand the fact that a treaty, according to our constitution, is the supreme law of the land ; but that does not hold for other countries so that we see them break treaties whenever it suits them. I do not think the United States should, either in spirit or in law, violate any declaration of any treaty; but since international lawyers of admitted standing of our own country, and many of Europe, define this treaty just as I have stated, I think we should place ourselves squarely upon the reading of this treaty by the President, and as American citizens, should endorse him in the stand which he has taken, for by no trick of logic can we give another construction unless we take one section of one article and ignore the rest of the treaty.
I think the Foreign ('ommerce Committee is most remiss in coming here, and asking us to condemn a thing without one word to tell us why it should be done. I protest against this I think it is a thing which should be thoroughly considered and this great commercial body of the City of New York should place itself squarely upon the principle of patriotism and upon the principle of constitutional rights which gives the Federal government the power to regulate commerce; and if we can regulate commerce in such a way as to upbuild the American mercantile marine and bring back our flag on the ocean, it is our duty to do so. I know that has nothing to do with this question to-day as to whether we shall use this right; but we have the right. I have not seen one single argument other than the quotation from Article III. which I have read to you, and which is never qualified by the following clauses, but is always pushed forward as the best reason for not availing ourselves of this right; when every man knows down in his heart that the Hay-PAUNCEFOTE Treaty was made only to preserve the neutrality of the United States, and if he knows anything about international law, he knows what neutrality is. [Applause.]
THE PRESIDENT.—I suppose there is no one in this Chamber who would not like to subscribe completely to the views expressed by Mr. Nixon. It is however a question on the part of some of the members as to whether they are justified in taking the view that Mr. Nixon has taken. I presume the membership of the Chamber is considerably divided in that regard, and certainly those who disagree with MR. Nixon are entitled to be considered quite as patriotic and quite as conscientious as Mr. Nixon. [Applause.]
Mr. Nixon.—I did not impugn their patriotism. I wanted them to give some reasons why they turned down the resolutions absolutely without any explanation.
THE PRESIDENT.—I think you are right in that regard, but I feel sure they will give some reason, and I only wish to say that they should not be thought to be in the slightest degree lacking in both patriotism and conscientiousness in taking a view which at first sight at least would commend itself to every one. Now, we have always the fullest discussion here and it is a great pleasure to hear the views of the various gentlemen here who may bave thought about this subject. Will anyone else make suggestions ?
REMARKS OF CHARLES L. BERNHEIMER, ESQ.
MR. BERNHEIMER.-A resolution adopted by this Chamber has value only if it is founded on the mature reflection, deliberation and experience of the members voting. Because I believe that a considerable number of those present have not read and digested the treaties which are involved in this question, I move for a postponement to the December meeting when it shall be made a special order of the day, and that the Secretary of the Chamber be requested to include in the next Monthly Bulletin of the Chamber a transcript of the CLAYTON-BULWER Treaty and the HAY.PAUNCEFOTE Treaty ; also such other relevant matters taken from other treaties and state papers bearing on this subject which may be considered advisable by the Committee on Foreign Commerce and the Revenue Laws.
EBEN E. OLCOTT seconded the motion.
EDWARD D. PAGE.—Do I understand this amendment, if passed, precludes discussion until the next meeting?
THE PRESIDENT.— It is perfectly competent for any member to discuss the whole question, it being entirely relevant and connected with MR. BERNHEIMER's motion.
REMARKS OF G. WALDO SMITH.
G. WALDO SMITH.-I think that Mr. BERNHEIMER is very wise in making his amnendment. I have been familiar with this question from the very beginning. I have discussed it before other bodies, but I take it for granted that a great many of the members have not read the HAY-PAU'NCEFOTE Treaty and if that treaty and the CLAYTONBULWER Treaty are put in our Bulletin for next month where every one can read and study them, I think it would be an excellent thing. We can then talk more intelligently than we can today.
REMARKS OF EDWARD D. PAGE, ESQ.
Mr. PAGE.—I wish to traverse some statements made by Mr. Nixon and to present some further points which I think he has overlooked.
In the first place, this question to my mind is not an American question so much as it is a moral question and an international question. We can sometimes get a few votes by saying a thing is American, but I want to say that I think it has got to be proved that it is exclusively an American question, before you can expect a Chamber like this to approve any such idea.
Mr. Nixon also referred to the firm position of the President. I think it is within the recollection of every gentlemen here that the President's position on this question was very wobbly indeed, and that he did not for a time think that he was going to sign the bill. He even stated as much.
Again, regarding the question of neutrality. Mr. Nixon has brought up one international lawyer, a gentleman who lives in London. I have not heard any American names in that connection. The passage of the law which the President signed was opposed by whom ? Senator Root for one. Senator LODGE said that it was a question that certainly would be brought up for arbitration if we passed the bill, and that the decision would be against us if the question was ever brought to the Hague Tribunal. Senator McCUMBER was prominent in the discussion of this matter, and he took views which were practically the same as those of Senator Root and Senator LODGE. Therefore, I wish to say that it is not true that there is no authority on the other side. It is true there is authority possibly on both sides, but certainly there is good, American authority to the effect that this act, which was I think acted on under some misapprehensions as to the temper of the American people, was passed possibly inadvisedly. There are many reasons for the report of this committee being presented in the way it was, and none greater than the very singular change in public sentiment that has been brought about since the discussion of this matter began.
The American people are a moral people. They don't intend to flount their inconsistency or their inability or unwillingness to fulfill a contract in the face of the world. I disagree with MR. Nixon in his statement that the only matter on which the HAY.POUNCEFOTE Treaty was substituted was the question of neutrality. The question of the rights of the contracting nations was passed on as well as the question of neutrality by the CLAYTON-BULWER Treaty.
Let me read to you from the CLAYTON-BULWER Treaty two very brief passages. The article first says that neither the United States nor Great Britain will never obtain nor maintain for itself any exclusive control over said ship canal nor shall any intimacy with any state through whose territory the canal may pass be used for the purpose of acquiring either directly or indirectly for the interest of one, any advantage with respect to commerce or navigation through the canal which shall not be offered on the same terms to citizens of the other.
MR. Nixon.—What treaty is that, sir?
MR. PAGE.—That is a passage from Article I. of the CLAYTONBULWER Treaty, passed on the 19th of April, 1850.
When we felt that we wanted to build the Panama Canal ourselves we went to Great Britain, knowing that we could not build the canal while that treaty was in force, and asked them to negotiate with us a new treaty for the purpose of obtaining an advantage to the United States, namely: the advantage of building the canal ourselves. In doing so we asked Great Britain to surrender manifest advantages which Great Britain possessed by reason of the CLAYTON-BULWER Treaty. Great Britain is interested in the route from her own soil to that of her colonies. At the time of the passage of that treaty it was thought that the Panama Canal would be built in a few years. Therefore Great Britain and the United States got together and made the CLAYTON-BULWER Treaty; and moreover even, with respect to neutrality, in opposition to what Mr. Nixon has said, that treaty actually provided that in case of war between the contracting parties, Great Britain and the United States, the vessels of either should be exempt from capture, blockade or detention by either of the belligerents while in the canal ; and Article V. guaranteed the neutrality of the canal forever.
Now we went to Great Britain and asked them to surrender certain advantages that they had. They were in partnership with us by the CLAYTON-BULWER Treaty. We asked them to surrender their share in that and to give up something, and we on our part agreed to build the canal, and agreed that in case it should be built that certain things would take place. Those things are well expressed by Article III. of the HAY-PAUNCEFOTE Treaty.
The HAY-PAUNCEFOTE Treaty does not provide for any exemption from tolls on the part of our own ships. It has been alleged by some that the reason why it was not provided was because the question did not come up at the time. That is not so. The question did come up.
I have been reading this morning Senate Document 85, of the 57th Congress which shows the deliberations of the Senate at the time of the ratification of the HaY-PAUNCEFOTE Treaty in 1901. In that debate this resolution was brought up as an amendment to the treaty.
“ The United States reserves the right in the regulation and the management of the canal to discriminate with respect to charges of traffic in favor of vessels of its own citizens engaged in coastwise trade.”
Plainly therefore it was before the people who negotiated that treaty. That amendment was rejected by the Senate by a vote of 27 to 43. So that the contention that the matter was not up at that time is not a true contention. Great Britain by the HAY-PAUNCEFOTE Treaty consented to the remission of the provision of the CLAYTONBULWER Treaty that we should not have authority to constructor control the canal, and we on our part gave up something as our consideration for that sacrifice.