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Although it is not a rule of law, one can not deny that it has considerable importance for international law. The principle of equilibrium could form the sanction of international law. It could constitute the force by virtue of which the right of each party might be realized. Just as in internal law the liberties of individuals are protected by the fear of punishment entertained by him who might wish to violate them, the same motive could restrain one state from attacking another. A firm belief that the equilibrium will be endangered would suffice to marshal against the aggressor the united forces of the others, and the conviction that such an event would produce, would hold in check the evil passions and would prevent war.

Why has the principle of equilibrium not succeeded in fulfilling these functions? We have suggested that it lacks clearness, that it can be given various interpretations and that it can serve opposed interests. But, on the other hand, it can not be denied that there are cases in which the states have almost instinctively united against another state which seemed to them to threaten the balance of power. It is sufficient, in this connection, to note the coalitions against Louis XIV, Napoleon I, and recently against Germany. It must also be stated that although the interpretation of the principle may very often present difficulties and serve egotistical interests, the facts may be so evident that the judgment will not be contestable.

But who will be competent to judge whether the balance of power is threatened or not? Over and above the difficulty which the interpretation of the principle itself offers, there is here a question of the highest importance to be solved. Without an organ to apply the force which the opinion of the Powers represents, each one of them will be able to invoke arbitrarily the authority of the principle, which under such conditions can not be conducive to the general interest. But given the existence of a competent organ and the conviction on the part of the organ that the balance of power is being threatened by some state, will it be possible to make this state responsible? Will it be possible to check the growth due to the fortunate development of the economic and moral forces of a country? The industrial life of a state will, for instance, require colonies. What means shall be employed to satisfy the necessary needs of a country? It is evident that the change of physical and moral conditions will never permit a balance status quo. This is still another reason why the principle of equilibrium could not succeed in guaranteeing international law.

We have shown that every invocation of the principle of equilibrium necessarily presupposes the existence of a general interest. This interest has not been everywhere understood or perhaps it has not always existedthis interest of peace. It was natural that the ambitions of the states sought their satisfaction in war at a time when the victor derived material benefits from his victory. Now, when the economic effects of war are heavily felt by all the states, their common interest is clearly outlined.

And the community of interest from this point of view will be accentuated to such an extent that all means will be employed to hinder a state from aggrandizement in a manner which constitutes a menace to the others. The same holds true in a case where the aggrandizement is due to a development of the interior forces of the state. In adopting this point of view, it does not follow necessarily that the solidarity of the states would demand the mutilation of another state whose growing greatness depends upon its moral or material activity. Diplomacy can furnish other means designed to give free play to the interior forces of the state; by treaties of commerce the need of raw materials can be satisfied, and by virtue of the system of spheres of interest, the population can find new fields for its activity. But in order to realize this idea of solidarity which should unite the states against evil passions conducive to war, the moral element must manifestly be emphasized. It will be necessary for the state to have the desire to reconcile its own interests with the respect for the rights of the others. The thought of Talleyrand has not lost its applicability.

It must be stated that if the principle of equilibrium has not succeeded in guaranteeing the rights of all, the reason for this is the fact that there is no instrumentality capable of giving a just interpretation to the requirements of the principle, that the common interest of the states in maintaining it is not clearly defined, and that the considerations of a moral order have not been introduced into it. It is clear that in the efforts to constitute the League of Nations we must see the expression of a desire to create a new condition of affairs in this connection. The conception of moral obligations among states, their common interest accentuated by a formal organization, and the institution of an executive agency indicate a development in this direction. But what should be specially noted is the fact that these efforts are made, not because they are considered as sufficient or useful in themselves, but in order to bear out the principle of equilibrium. For the system which incorporates the collective threat or the use of military or economic force against a state that seeks to disturb the peace can only rest upon the principle of equilibrium, better understood and better realized.




Member of the Porto Rico Bar and the Bar of the Supreme Court of the

United States.

Ordinarily we speak of an empire as a state governed by an emperor, as for instance, the two Napoleonic Empires in France. But in a broader and more modern sense, an empire is a powerful state which has wide and supreme dominion over extensive and outlying territories and countries inhabited by peoples usually of a different race, historical background and civilization. In this manner, we speak of an imperialistic nation when the policy of that nation, whatever its form of government, aims to create for itself a position of dominance and control over backward, weaker or helpless nations, territories or peoples.

The expression American Empire may be perhaps a trifle shocking. It was, however, used long ago by Chief Justice Marshall, and repeated by other eminent jurists, statesmen and writers both of this country and abroad. While no one will claim, I think, that the United States has ever deliberately or consciously pursued an imperialistic policy, yet there is indeed sufficient evidence in the history of this country to convince any one that we have very noticeable imperialistic tendencies among certain classes of our citizens. As a matter of fact, there is now at the present time, and there has always been in this country in the past, a powerful group of men who have at different times fostered and encouraged the notion of establishing an American Empire. Franklin, we are told by a careful American writer, had already planned in 1775 an American Empire. He says:

When it is recalled that it was Franklin who made the first draft of Articles of Confederation which was considered by Congress, it is not surprising to find that it contained provisions establishing an American Empire in which the American Confederation was to be the Imperial State. It was Franklin who made the original draft of the Plan of Ūnion which, as has been already noticed, provided for the establishment of an American Empire much more completely and distinctly than it did for the

* This article is based, mainly, on a lecture delivered by the writer before the School of Diplomacy, Jurisprudence and Citizenship of the American University, Washington, D. C., May 23, 1921.

establishment of an American State. He was the foremost expansionist of his times.


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That the doctrine of national expansion, which is perhaps a less aggressive and a more pleasing term than imperialism, has had very numerous and powerful partisans among the people of this country is shown by the fact that since the creation of the Union of the thirteen original colonies, the United States has developed steadily in amazing proportions to its original size, adding more and more territory, until today the American people can truly boast, as did Charles I of Spain, the richest monarch in the Christian world, nearly four centuries ago: "The sun in my dominions never sets.”

Originally the United States was merely a confederation of States. The Union of these States began among the colonies and grew out of a common origin of mutual sympathies, kindred principles, similar interests and geographical relations. This union was confirmed and strengthened by the necessities of war and received definite form and character and sanction from the Articles of Confederation. As originally established, the United States had no territory whatsoever. As is well known, the territory belonged to or was claimed by the individual States. Soon, however, after the confirmation by the treaty of 1783 with Great Britain of the claims of the original thirteen states to the territory stretching to the west as far as the Mississippi River, the so-called “Territory Northwest of the River Ohio" came under the control of the Continental Congress through the cessions made by New York in 1781, Virginia in 1784, Massachusetts in 1785 and Connecticut in 1786. Thus, when the present Constitution was adopted for the purpose of establishing “a more perfect Union,” we find the United States already the possessor of that wonderful tract of territory so famous in the history of this country, consisting of the area west of Pennsylvania, north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi, which now constitutes the richest center of population and wealth in the United States. The "Territory Southwest of the River Ohio" was then acquired by the United States by virtue of the cessions made by South Carolina in 1787, North Carolina in 1790, and Georgia in 1802.5

1 A. H. Snow, The Administration of Dependencies, Chap. XIX, entitled “The American Empire Planned, 1776."

2 Texas v. Wnite, 7 Wall. 700.

3 “The conclusion of the peace treaty with Great Britain in 1783 gave to the Americans an area bounded on the west by the Mississippi, on the south by Florida, and on the north by the Great Lakes and the ridge between the St. Lawrence and the Atlantic. Their neighbors were the Spanish on the south and the west and the English on the north.” 0. P. Austin, Steps in the Expansion of Our Territory, pp. 79-80.

4 Gannett, Boundaries of the United States, House Doc. No. 679, 58th Cong., 2nd Sess., pp. 30-35.

5 Ibid.

After that the territorial expanison of this country was enormous. In rapid succession the United States acquired the Province of Louisiana in 1803, the Floridas in 1819, Texas in 1845, Oregon in 1846, California and the other western territory acquired from Mexico in 1848 and 1853. In addition to these acquisitions of contiguous territory, the United States has acquired complete sovereignty over Alaska, Hawaii, the Philippine Islands, Porto Rico, the Virgin Islands and some other minor islands in the Pacific and elsewhere. The United States has also acquired the Panama Canal Zone, and exercises virtual protectorates over Cuba, Panama, San Domingo, Haiti and Nicaragua. We see, therefore, that while the United States was at first merely a Confederation of States, with no territory outside that belonging to the individual States, it is now a very powerful nation, developing rapidly into a magnificent empire; an empire which embraces within its jurisdiction, first, the States which compose the Union as the metropolitan nucleus, and second, the overseas possessions and dependencies and non-contiguous territories and protectorates as the subservient parts of that empire."

When the present Constitution was adopted, its framers were intent on the creation of a union of States. Provision, therefore, was made in that instrument for representation in Congress by the States only. The territory which was already in the possession of the United States was mentioned only in the clause giving Congress the power to make rules and regulations for the management and disposition of the territory and other property belonging to the United States. In regard to colonial representation the Constitution is silent.

Previous to the war with Spain in 1898, it cannot be said that the United States had ever embarked upon the business of a colonizing empire. The memory of colonial days was still too fresh in the minds of the people to permit of any such delusions as an American Empire; and yet we find already before and during the War of Independence the notion that the United States ought to include at least all the English and French-speaking communities of North America, and for years afterwards the view was often expressed that no durable peace with England could exist so long as she retained possessions in the North American Continent. “And when by degrees,” says Lord Bryce in his masterly work entitled The American Commonwealth, “that belief died away, the eyes of ambitious statesmen turned to the south.” The slave-holding party tried to acquire Cuba and Porto Rico in the expectation of turning them into slave-holding States ; and after the abolition of slavery, attempts were made by Seward in 1867 to acquire St. Thomas and St. John from Denmark. President Grant also

6 Gannett, op. cit. 7 "The Union is the Imperial State as respects the dependencies." Snow, op. cit. $ U. S. Const., Art. I, secs. 1, 2 and 3. 9 Ibid., Art. IV, sec. 3, par. 2.

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