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The natural consequence of these conditions was seen in the small figure which American vessels presented in the commerce of our own ports. In 1913 the total clearances of American steam vessels in foreign trade from our own seaports were 4,520,697 and of foreign vessels 31,221,160. The clearances of shipping from our ports under the flags of the actual and potential belligerents in the present war were as follows:
THE GREAT SHIPPING COMPANIES A list of the great shipping companies of the world, just before the war, arranged in the order of total tonnage, showed that by far the largest was a German line, while another German line was easily second and the next four were British.
One of the earliest results of the war in 1914 was to stimulate the increase of American merchant shipping, to do the neutral carrying trade of the world, and the implication of this country in the war is certain still further to promote the same movement, for the supplying of our allies across the sea with the necessaries of existence and for replacing the vast amount of their tonnage which the German submarine campaign has destroyed.
Our "Isolated Position" Less Marked than of Old — All the World Now Within Reach — Two Alien Frontiers - One Marked with a Century of Peace - The Troublous Mexican Frontier — Our Extended Frontage on Two Oceans — Fortunate Formation of the Atlantic Littoral for Defense — Possibilities of an Inland Coastal Waterway, Valuable in Peace, Invaluable in War — Utility of the Panama Canal and Need of Its Defense — American Interest in the Gulf and Caribbean,
IN THE early days of the republic we enjoyed, geographically, a "splendid isolation.” The oceans formed practically insuperable barriers against serious invasion. When we got rid of France and Spain as neighbors by taking Louisiana and Florida for our own, there were left abutting upon us the territories of only one important power, and in 1815 we established with it a peace which has ever since remained unbroken; a peace in the perpetuity of which we had so much confidence that we agreed to leave the frontier between us and that power entirely unfortified.
Modern inventions, however, have destroyed our isolation, and all the world is now within reach and within striking distance of us. The Atlantic Ocean is now scarcely more of a barrier than was the Hudson or the Delaware River in Washington's time. Our efficiency on the sea and our military preparedness on the land, must now be depended upon to protect us from foreign invasion.
TWO LAND FRONTIERS There will probably never be occasion for anxiety concerning the longer and more important of our two land
frontiers. The peace which has been unbroken for more than a century is now being mightily confirmed by the union of the two nations in war against a common foe. At the southwest, however, the prospect is not so reassuring. Already twice in our history we have crossed the Mexican border with force and arms, and the unhappy condition of that country provokes a fear that other troubles may hereafter occur in that same region. It cannot be said, however, that there is any grave menace there to the integrity of this republic. It is true that during the present war, while still our relations with her were friendly, Germany plotted to use Mexico as a channel for invasion of the United States, for purposes of conquest and the partitioning of our territory. It does not appear, however, that any serious Mexican statesman gave the vicious intrigue encouragement, and we may probably feel assured that none is likely to do so. An attack upon the United States from that direction would be of all most difficult for the invader to prosecute.
OUR GREAT COAST LINE It is rather to our enormously extended coast line that we are to look as the potential scene of attack, and therefore as the region to which most defensive attention is to be given. Apart from Alaska and our insular possessions, we have a coast line of thousands of miles, on the Atlantic and Gulf, and on the Pacific, and along it or close to it are seated some of our most important cities.
The defense of these cities and of the entire coast line against attack or the landing of an army of invasion must be threefold. The first line of defense is, of course, the navy, which should be sufficiently strong to render it impossible for an enemy to land an army at any point, or to attack one of the coast cities. For efficiency in that respect, the navy needs a good supply of submarine boats, and also a supply of aeroplanes for scouting purposes—to !! watch for and report the approach of an enemy's fleet. Next there must be an adequate system of coast fortifications around all important coast cities and at the entrances of navigable rivers and bays. Finally, there must be an army of ample force, so mobile that it can speedily be massed at any point, to prevent the landing of a hostile army.
NATURE'S PROVISION FOR DEFENSE It is an interesting and most gratifying circumstance that the most important and most exposed portion of our coast, the Atlantic frontage, has been provided by nature with exceptional advantages for defense, needing only a little human co-operation to make them available. The reference is, of course, to the actual and potential system of inland coastal waterways extending from New England to the Gulf. It is a system which, if put into full use, would be of inestimable service in time of peace as a highway of travel and transportation, and which in time of war would be literally invaluable, since it would provide an intracoastal course of navigation well sheltered and secure from alien attack, and at the same time a means of shifting our coast defense and submarine fleet from point to point in both security and secrecy. The Panama Canal is prized because it will enable us to transfer a fleet swiftly from the Atlantic to the Pacific, or vice versa. This intracoastal waterway would enable us to keep our fleets of torpedo boats, destroyers and submarines lying secure in sheltered waters and ready to issue forth for action from any of a multitude of inlets along the coast.
THE INTRACOASTAL HIGHWAY Boston is generally accepted as the northern and eastern terminal of the highway. Beyond that point the coast does not, save in a few places, readily lend itself to inland navigation. But Boston is the last important port in that direction. It is in value of its commerce the second port of the United States. It is the point where the intracoastal waterway most directly emerges upon the high seas, and where it is nearest to Europe. It is also a point where an exceptional number of great trunk railroad systems converge upon tidewater. For these reasons it will most appropriately constitute the upper terminal and perhaps on the whole the most important center of traffic of the whole coast system.
Boston is now connected with the intracoastal route by way of the Cape Cod Canal. That is beyond doubt a most useful passage, and will always enjoy an extensive patronage. It is not, however, suited to the chief purposes of the intracoastal waterway. Its principal utility is for oceangoing craft. Between it and Boston lies the broad stretch of Cape Cod Bay, almost a part of the high seas and not well adapted to navigation by the barges and other vessels which will throng the intracoastal route. For vessels which have hitherto gone from Boston to New York or southward around Cape Cod, and for those coming down from Portland and other points above Boston, to ports below the latter, it should always be of much value. But for the purposes of canal and other inland navigation there is needed a most sheltered route from Boston Harbor to Long Island Sound. This will be provided by the contemplated canal from Quincy or Weymouth to Fall River, supplemented by another through Rhode Island, from Narragansett Bay through Point Judith Pond and the other lagoons to Watch