Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything


Books Menu

Author Catalog
Title Catalog
Sectioned Catalog


- The Path of Empire, - 10/32 -

inconceivable, until people realized that neither country could yield without an admission of defeat both galling to national pride and involving fundamental principles of conduct and policy for the future.

Great Britain in particular stood amazed at Cleveland's position. The general opinion was that peace must be maintained and that diplomats must find a formula which would save both peace and appearances. Yet before this public opinion could be diplomatically formulated, a new episode shook the British sense of security. Germany again appeared as a menace and, as in the case of Samoa, the international situation thus produced tended to develop a realization of the kinship between Great Britain and the United States. Early in January, 1896, the Jameson raid into the Transvaal was defeated, and the Kaiser immediately telegraphed his congratulations to President Krtiger. In view of the possibilities involved in this South African situation, British public opinion demanded that her diplomats maintain peace with the United States, with or without the desired formula.

The British Government, however, was not inclined to act with undue haste. It became apparent even to the most panicky that war with the United States could not come immediately, for the American Commission of Inquiry must first report. For a time Lord Salisbury hoped that Congress would not support the President--a contingency which not infrequently happened under Cleveland's Administration. On this question of foreign relations, however, Congress stood squarely behind the President. Lord Salisbury then toyed with the hope that the matter might be delayed until Cleveland's term expired, in the hope he might have an opportunity of dealing with a less strenuous successor.

In the summer of 1896, John Hay, an intimate friend of Major McKinley, the probable Republican candidate for the presidency, was in England, where he was a well-known figure. There he met privately Arthur J. Balfour, representing Lord Salisbury, and Sir William Harcourt, the leader of the Opposition. Hay convinced them that a change in the Administration of his country would involve no retreat from the existing American position. The British Government thereupon determined to yield but attempted to cover its retreat by merging the question with one of general arbitration. This proposal, however, was rejected, and Lord Salisbury then agreed to "an equitable settlement" of the Venezuela question by empowering the British Ambassador at Washington to begin negotiations "either with the representative of Venezuela or with the Government of the United States acting as the friend of Venezuela."

The achievement of the Administration consisted in forcing Great Britain to recognize the interest of the United States in the dispute with Venezuela, on the ground that Venezuela was one of the nations of the Western Hemisphere. This concession practically involved recognition of the interest of the United States in case of future disputes with other American powers. The arbitration treaty thus arranged between Great Britain and Venezuela under the auspices of the United States submitted the whole disputed area to judicial decision but adopted the rule that fifty years of occupation should give a sufficient title for possession. The arbitration tribunal, which met in Paris in 1899, decided on a division of the disputed territory but found that the claim of Great Britain was, on the whole, more nearly correct than that of Venezuela.

Cleveland's startling and unconventional method of dealing with this controversy has been explained by all kinds of conjectures. For example, it has been charged that his message was the product of a fishing trip on which whisky flowed too freely; on the other hand, it has been asserted that the message was an astute political play for the thunder of patriotic applause. More seriously, Cleveland has been charged by one set of critics with bluffing, and by another with recklessly running the risk of war on a trivial provocation. The charge of bluffing comes nearer the fact, for President Cleveland probably had never a moment's doubt that the forces making for peace between the two nations would be victorious. If he may be said to have thrown a bomb, he certainly had attached a safety valve to it, for the investigation which he proposed could not but give time for the passions produced by his message to cool. It is interesting to note in passing that delay for investigation was a device which that other great Democrat, William Jennings Bryan, Cleveland's greatest political enemy, sought, during his short term as Secretary of State under President Wilson, to make universal in a series of arbitration treaties--treaties which now bind the United States and many other countries, how tightly no man can tell.

While, however, Cleveland's action was based rather on a belief in peace than on an expectation of war, it cannot be dismissed as merely a bluff. Not only was he convinced that the principle involved was worth establishing whatever the cost might be, but he was certain that the method he employed was the only one which could succeed, for in no other way was it possible to wake England to a realization of the fact that the United States was full-grown and imbued with a new consciousness of its strength. So far was Cleveland's message from provoking war that it caused the people of Great Britain vitally to realize for the first time the importance of friendship with the United States. It marks a change in their attitude toward things American which found expression not only in diplomacy, but in various other ways, and which strikingly revealed itself in the international politics of the next few years. Not that hostility was converted into affection, but a former condescension gave way to an appreciative friendliness towards the people of the United States.

The reaction in America was somewhat different. Cleveland had united the country upon a matter of foreign policy, not completely, it is true, but to a greater degree than Blaine had ever succeeded in doing. More important than this unity of feeling throughout the land, however, was the development of a spirit of inquiry among the people. Suddenly confronted by changes of policy that might bring wealth or poverty, life or death, the American people began to take the foreign relations of the United States more seriously than they had since the days of the Napoleonic wars. Yet it is not surprising that when the Venezuela difficulty had been settled and Secretary Olney and Sir Julian Pauncefote, the British Ambassador, had concluded a general treaty of arbitration, the Senate should have rejected it, for the lesson that caution was necessary in international affairs had been driven home. Time was needed for the new generation to formulate its foreign policy.

CHAPTER VII. The Outbreak Of The War With Spain

Before the nineteenth century ended, the Samoan, Hawaiian, and Venezuelan episodes had done much to quicken a national consciousness in the people of the United States and at the same time to break down their sense of isolation from the rest of the world. Commerce and trade were also important factors in overcoming this traditional isolation. Not only was American trade growing, but it was changing in character. Argentina was beginning to compete with the United States in exporting wheat and meat, while American manufacturers were reaching the point where they were anxious for foreign markets in which they felt they could compete with the products of Great Britain and Germany.

In a thousand ways and without any loss of vigor the sense of American nationality was expressing itself. The study of American history was introduced into the lower schools, and a new group of historians began scientifically to investigate whence the American people had come and what they really were. In England, such popular movements find instant expression in literature; in the United States they take the form of societies. Innumerable patriotic organizations such as the "Daughters of the American Revolution" and a host of others, sought to trace out American genealogy and to perpetuate the memory of American military and naval achievements. Respect for the American flag was taught in schools, and the question was debated as to whether its use in comic opera indicated respect or insult. This new nationalism was unlike the expansionist movement of the fifties in that it laid no particular stress upon the incorporation of the neighboring republics by a process of federation. On the whole, the people had lost their faith in the assimilating influence of republican institutions and did not desire to annex alien territory and races. They were now more concerned with the consolidation of their own country and with its place in the world. Nor were they as neglectful as their fathers had been of the material means by which to accomplish their somewhat indefinite purposes.

The reconstruction of the American Navy, which had attained such magnitude and played so important a part in the Civil War but which had been allowed to sink into the merest insignificance, was begun by William E. Chandler, the Secretary of the Navy under President Arthur. William C. Whitney, his successor under President Cleveland, continued the work with energy. Captain Alfred T. Mahan began in 1883 to publish that series of studies in naval history which won him world-wide recognition and did so much to revolutionize prevailing conceptions of naval strategy. A Naval War College was established in 1884, at Newport, Rhode Island, where naval officers could continue the studies which they had begun at Annapolis.

The total neglect of the army was not entirely the result of indifference. The experience with volunteers in the Civil War had given almost universal confidence that the American people could constitute themselves an army at will. The presence of several heroes of that war in succession in the position of commander-in-chief of the army had served to diffuse a sense of security among the people. Here and there military drill was introduced in school and college, but the regular army attracted none of the romantic interest that clung about the navy, and the militia was almost totally neglected. Individual officers, such as young Lieutenant Tasker Bliss, began to study the new technique of warfare which was to make fighting on land as different from that of the wars of Napoleon as naval warfare was different from that of the time of Nelson. Yet in spite of obviously changing conditions, no provision was made for the encouragement of young army officers in advanced and up-to-date Studies. While their contemporaries in other professions were adding graduate training to the general education which a college gave, the graduates of West Point were considered to have made themselves in four years sufficiently proficient for all the purposes of warfare.

By the middle nineties thoughtful students of contemporary movements were aware that a new epoch in national history was approaching. What form this national development would take was, however, still uncertain, and some great event was obviously required to fix its character. Blaine's Pan-Americanism had

The Path of Empire, - 10/32

Previous Page     Next Page

  1    5    6    7    8    9   10   11   12   13   14   15   20   30   32 

Schulers Books Home

 Games Menu

Dice Poker
Tic Tac Toe


Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything