Слике страница
PDF
ePub

to come before a court; so many cases are left undecided. After a long time, when the heat of strong feeling on each side is over, historians can usually reach a conclusion. But in any given case it is hardly safe to judge ourselves without first hearing whether other peoples have anything to say. Perhaps the four cases in which the action of the United States has been criticised most severely are (1) the Mexican War; (2) the war with Spain, and soon after with the Filipinos; (3) the controversy with Colombia over the Panama Canal Zone; (4) the question of Panama Canal tolls.

In the case of the Mexican War many Americans protested at the time. They believed its motive was to secure territory for the extension of slavery. In his memoirs President Grant, who had himself been a soldier in that war, said of it:

Mexican
War

“I was bitterly opposed to the measure (annexation of Texas) and to this day regard the war which resulted as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.

It has been defended on the ground that states secured from Mexico as the result of the war,–California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada-have had a far happier history since than they would have had under Mexican rule. This is no doubt true, but it does not make the war just. It is quite possible that a man who breaks into the house of a gambler, or a miser, or a rich idler, may make a much better use of the money than would the owner, but this is not enough to justify

burglary. Joseph was sold into captivity by his brothers, and it turned out well in certain respects for all; but this did not make the brothers' act a good one. It seems probable that historians will look upon the Mexican War in much the same way.

The war with Spain was very different. The two The war chief causes were the unhappy conditions in Cuba, and with the sudden sinking of the United States ship, the Maine,

Spain in Havana harbor. There was a genuine desire to help the Cubans to liberty and prosperity; there was also a sudden resentment when it was generally supposed that the Maine had been sunk by some Spanish agency. In the case of Cuba it seemed as though Spain had proved itself unable to give peace and happiness to the island. And the fact that Cuba was not made a part of the United States possessions but was set free to govern itself went to show that our interest in it was not selfish. The later war with the Filipinos was not so simple. People in the United States were not agreed as to its good faith and justice. One American general was retired from active service and reprimanded by President Roosevelt because of an order to “ kill everything over ten.” The testimony before the Senate Commission showed about all the kinds of horrible things that occur in a war between peoples of different

On the other hand, the American government of the islands promoted education, brought about great improvement in health, and is helping trade and agriculture. At first some Americans were carried away with the idea of having an empire in the Pacific, and gaining great wealth from the Philippines, but this was not the sober thought of the American people. There is a steadily growing purpose to make the Philippines an independent state when they are capable of ruling

races.

Panama

Mr.

themselves and of keeping their freedom against others who might seize them. New events may upset present plans, but it may fairly be said that the intention of the responsible American people today is to be just to the Filipinos—an intention which has been put into the maxim, “ The Philippines for the Filipinos."

The Panama Zone controversy with Colombia is too recent for discussion in a book of this kind. Roosevelt, who was President at the time when the Panama Republic was recognized by the United States, maintains vigorously that Colombia lost all her rights to Panama and should not be paid. Some believed strongly that the United States was unjust to Colombia, and during the Taft administration a treaty was presented to the Senate providing for the payment of $10,000,000 in return for the Canal Zone. Colombia refused to accept this sum, and demanded that the whole controversy be submitted to arbitration. Again, under the Wilson administration, a treaty providing for the payment of $25,000,000 to Panama was signed by the ministers of both countries, but so far has not been ratified by the United States Senate. Perhaps fifty years hence a fair judgment on the case can be formed.

The last case is clearer. The United States and Great Britain made a treaty to build the Panama Canal jointly. Later the United States wished to build and control it alone. A treaty was made with Great Britain to make this possible, and as a part of the treaty all nations were to pay equal rates for using the canal. Then Congress passed a law giving American ships in the coasting trade free passage. It was claimed by the authors of this law that the treaty meant that we were to charge the same rates to all nations except the

Panama Canal tolls

United States. Great Britain objected that this had not been her understanding, and in order to keep good faith Congress repealed its law. Now all ships, whether American or foreign, pay tolls at the same rates. Such action is in accord with Washington's advice.

We come finally to the precept: Cultivate peace and Peace and harmony with all. One of the most important ways in harmony

with all which the United States has tried to cultivate

peace and harmony has been in settling disputes by arbitration. President Eliot names this as one of five contributions which America has made to civilization. The first treaty of modern times which provided for arbitration was the so-called Jay treaty between the United States and Great Britain. This was negotiated by John Jay in 1794 and provided that a number of points should be referred to commissioners. From this time on such treaties became more and more common between civilized nations until in the first decade of this century one hundred and eighty such agreements were signed, and from the date of the Jay treaty up to the end of the nineteenth century two hundred and sixteen decisions had been rendered. Several of these have been on matters of great importance which might easily have led to war.

Such was the decision of the famous Alabama case. During the Civil War a ship was built for the Southern Confederacy in an English shipyard. When ready it was turned over to Confederate officers, named the Alabama, and used to destroy the commerce of the Northern States. The United States government claimed that England was responsible for the damage thus inflicted, because it had permitted the Alabama to put to sea in spite of warning that it was intended for a warship. People in the North felt very bitter. The claims were finally referred to a tribunal

Can we remain aloof from other nations ?

of eminent men, which met at Geneva, and after hearing
the evidence and arguments of both sides, awarded the
United States thirteen and a half millions of dollars
as damages. Perhaps the money was less important
than the satisfaction in being able to present the case
to a fair court and having a decision that we had a
just cause. It stings and makes men bitter when they
believe themselves unjustly treated and cannot get any
hearing. Other very important questions arbitrated
by the United States have related to fisheries, and to
the boundary between Alaska and Canada.
So much we have done to cultivate peace.

But now we have entered upon a new stage in our career. To carry out the real spirit of Washington's advice we first attempted to bring the great war to a close; then entered it ourselves. Three forces have been at work to compel a change in our relations to Europe.

First we are no longer so far from Europe as we were, and Asia is nearly as close a neighbor to our western coast. When Washington wrote, it took many weeks to cross the ocean. There was no telegraph or cable. Each nation lived mainly on its own resources, that is, it raised its own grain and other means of obtaining food and did comparatively little trading with others in the necessaries of life. Hence it was possible to promote peace chiefly in a negative way. All this is changed. Europe is scarcely farther from our Atlantic coast than our own Pacific states. Indeed, so far as the rates for exchanging goods are concerned, it is very much cheaper for the states on the Atlantic coast to trade with Europe than with remote parts of our own country. Further, we have been borrowing money in great amounts from Europe and Europe has in this great war begun to borrow money from the United

Other countries are closer than in 1797

« ПретходнаНастави »