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the Philippines lay some four thousand miles from the shores of America. Therein lay the crux of the Philippine problem. The islands could not be defended if the United States should ever find itself involved in a war with a naval Power. Interest, therefore, confirmed the conclusion which sentiment dictated, that they should be relinquished at the earliest possible moment. That, however, was no simple matter. Spanish administration had been such as to rule out any idea of a restoration of the Philippines to Spain. At the same time, civil war in the islands had been with difficulty suppressed by American troops, and a further outbreak was certain if the United States forces were withdrawn. There was equally strong objection to leaving the Philippines defenceless within the orbit of the expanding empire of Japan.
The Democratic platform had demanded, and President Wilson identified himself with the demand, that the Philippine Islands should be given their independence as soon as they were deemed capable of managing their own affairs, and that the neutralization of the group should if possible be secured by international agreement. Though Mr. Taft, who had been the first Governor-General of the Philippines, asserted that the islands would not be ready for self-government for fifty years, Mr. Wilson, in his message to Congress in December 1914, urged the passage of a measure granting a fuller degree of autonomy and pointing towards early independence. A Bill embodying this principle became law in August 1916. It substituted for the nominated “ Philippine Commission” an elected Senate of twentyfour ; and for the existing Assembly a House of Representatives of ninety. It generally enlarged the powers of the Insular Government, and put on record the purpose of the United States “to withdraw their sovereignty over the Philippine Islands and to recognize their independence as soon as a stable government can be established therein." "
Throughout his administration Mr. Wilson had given unmistakable proof of his desire that the nation should so far as might be live at peace with all men. He was resolutely opposed to all aggressive action, and in his speech at Mobile in October 1913 he had specifically pledged the United States against any annexation of alien territory. In all controversies that had arisen with foreign Powers it had been his fixed principle, maintained in the face of heated criticism, to subordinate the interests of his own country to what he considered to be the dictates of justice, or the needs of some larger policy looking beyond the immediate issue. The Panama Tolls Bill, the proposal for compensation to Colombia, and in some degree the Mexican policy, are cases in point.
But apart from negotiations on specific questions Mr. Wilson worked assiduously at measures designed to consolidate and perpetuate the pacific relations of the United States with the rest of the world. He had inherited from the preceding administration the principle of the so-called “ cooling-off” treaties, under which the signa
tory nations undertake to submit to an international commission all disputes not covered by existing arbitration treaties, and to refrain from hostile action for a year, or such shorter time as may suffice for the commission to reach a decision. It was, however, during Mr. Wilson's Presidency that the treaties were actually carried through. During 1914, 1915, and 1916 treaties were definitely ratified with Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Spain, the three Scandinavian Powers, China, and most of the LatinAmerican Republics.
The terms of the treaties are not beyond criticism, for the interval of a year, valuable as its“ cooling-off” effects may be, might give scope for the unhindered continuance of the very offences of commission or default that were the subject of dispute. None the less, the contraction of treaties with so many foreign Governments evidenced a growing faith in the principle of arbitration and discussion, and in the case of Latin America in particular the ratification of the treaties was well calculated to open the way to the adoption of the larger policy outlined in the early part of this chapter.
THE EUROPEAN WAR
The people of the United States are drawn from many nations, and chiefly from the nations now at war. It is natural and inevitable that there should be the utmost variety of sympathy and desire among them with regard to the issues and circumstances of the conflict. Some will wish one nation, others another, to succeed in the momentous struggle. It will be easy to excite passion and difficult to allay it. Those responsible for exciting it will assume a heavy responsibility, responsibility for no less a thing than that the people of the United States, whose love of their country and whose loyalty to its Government should unite them as Americans all, bound in honour and affection to think first of her and of her interests, may be divided into camps of hostile opinions hot against each other, involved in the war itself in impulse and opinion, if not in action. Such divisions among us would be fatal to our peace of mind, and might seriously stand in the way of the proper performance of our duty as the one great nation at peace, the one people holding itself ready to play a part of impartial mediation and speak the counsels of peace and accommodation, not as a partisan but as a friend.--Address to the American Peodle, August, 1914.
THE unlooked-for outbreak of the European War in August 1914 added immeasurably to Mr. Wilson's burdens. He was weighed down at the time by a great personal anxiety, his wife being in the first week of August laid on her deathbed at the White House. Mexican affairs were at a critical stage, for though Huerta had just taken ship for Europe the effects of his abdication were not yet revealed, and American troops were still in possession at Vera Cruz. The Presi
dent well knew, moreover, that though America might avoid actual participation in the war she could not fail to be directly and gravely affected by its reactions, and time and energies that should have been concentrated on programmes of domestic reform must of necessity be largely devoted to the negotiation of delicate problems of foreign policy.
There was at the outset no serious question of American intervention in the war. When England took the fateful decision on August 4th the meaning of the sudden breaking of the storm of conflict had hardly been grasped in the Western 'hemisphere. The documents published later in the official Blue Books and White Books and Red Books were not available ; only Belgium's neutrality, and not her women, had as yet been violated ; and though the direction of American sympathies might be clear, American judgment was at first held for the most part in suspense.
A tremendous responsibility was laid on Presi dent Wilson. Political tradition and the letter of the Constitution make the President of the United States both a leader and an interpreter of the people, and it rests with the individual to lay predominant emphasis on whichever he will of the two heads of his Presidential duty. Woodrow Wilson had for seventeen months played the rôle of leader, and the nation accordingly looked to him with the greater expectancy in the crisis of August 1914. In shaping his course at such a juncture he was bound to take cognizance of certain indisputable facts. Tem