476-477

From TheMorganReport
Revision as of 20:12, 8 December 2005 by Jere Krischel (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search
Previous Page Next Page

Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp476-477 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

Text Only


-p476-

of life are in death, so nations in the midst of peace find themselves confronted with unexpected causes of dissension, conflicts of interests, whose results may be, on the one hand, war, or, on the other, abandonment of clear and imperative national advantage in order to avoid an issue for which preparation has not been made. By no premeditated contrivance of our own, by the cooperation of a series of events which, however dependent, step by step, upon human action, were not intended to prepare the present crisis, the United States finds herself compelled to answer a question, to make a decision, not unlike and not less momentous than that required of the Roman senate when the Mamertine garrison invited it to occupy Messina and so to abandon the hitherto traditional policy which had confined the expansion of Rome to the Italian peninsula. For let it not be overlooked that, whether we wish or no, we must answer the question, we must make the decision. The issue can not be dodged. Absolute inaction in such a case is a decision as truly as the most vehement action. We can now advance, but, the conditions of the world being what they are, if we do not advance we recede; for there is involved not so much a particular action as a question of principle pregnant of great consequences in one direction or in the other.

Occasion of serious difficulty should not, indeed, here arise. Unlike the historical instance just cited, the two nations that have now come into contact are so alike in inherited traditions, habits of thought, and views of right, that injury to the one need not be anticipated from the predominance of the other in a quarter where its interests also predominate. Despite the heterogeneous character of the immigration which the past few years have been pouring into our country, our political traditions and racial characteristics still continue English—Mr. Douglas Campbell would say Dutch, but the stock is the same. Though thus somewhat gorged with food not wholly to its taste, our political digestion has so far contrived to master the incongruous mass of materials it has been unable to reject; and, if assimilation lias been at times imperfect, the political constitution and spirit remain English in essential features. Imbued with like ideals of liberty, of law, of right, certainly not less progressive than our kin beyond sea, we are, in the safeguards deliberately placed around our fundamental law, even more conservative than they. That which we received of the true spirit of freedom we have kept—liberty and law—not the one or the other, but both. In that spirit we have not only occupied our original inheritance, but also, step by step, as Rome incorporated the other nations of the peninsula, we have added to it, spreading and perpetuating everywhere the same foundation principles of free and good government which, to her honor be it said, Great Britain also has throughout her course maintained. And now, arrested on the south by the rights of a race wholly alien to us, and on the north by a body of states of like traditions to our own, whose freedom to choose their own affiliations we respect, we have come to the sea. In our infancy we bordered upon the Atlantic only; our youth carried our boundary to the Gulf of Mexico; to-day maturity sees us upon the Pacific. Have we no right or no call to progress farther in any direction? Are there for us beyond the sea horizon none of those essential interests, of those evident dangers, which impose a policy and confer rights?

This is the question that has long been looming upon the brow of a future now rapidly passing into the present. Of it the Hawaiian incident is a part, intrinsically, perhaps, a small part, but in its relations to the whole so vital that, as has before been said, a wrong decision

-p477-

does not stand by itself, but involves, not only in principle but in fact, recession along the whole line. In our natural, necessary, irrepressible expansion, we are here come into contact with the progress of another great people, the law of whose being has impressed upon it a principle of growth which has wrought mightily in the past and in the present is visible by recurring manifestations. Of this working, Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Egypt, Aden, India, in geographical succession though not in strict order of time, show a completed chain; forged link by link, by open force or politic bargain, but always resulting from the steady pressure of a national instinct, so powerful and so accurate that statesmen of every school, willing or unwilling, have found themselves carried along by a tendency which no individuality can resist or greatly modify. Unsubstantial rumor and incautious personal utterance have each suggested an impatient desire in Mr. Gladstone to be rid of the occupation of Egypt; but scarcely has his long exclusion from office ended than the irony of events signalizes his return thereto by an increase in the force of occupation. It may further be profitably noted, of the chain just cited, that the two extremities were first possessed— first India, then Gibraltar, far later Malta, Aden, Cyprus, Egypt—and that, with scarce an exception, each step has been taken, despite the jealous vexation of a rival. Spain has never ceased angrily to bewail Gibraltar. "I had rather," said the first Napoleon, "see the English on the heights of Montmartre than in Malta." The feelings of France about Egypt are matter of common knowledge, not even dissembled; and, for our warning be it added, her annoyance is increased by the bitter sense of opportunity rejected.

It is needless to do more than refer to that other chain of maritime possessions, Halifax, Bermuda, Santa Lucia, Jamaica, which strengthen the British hold upon the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Isthmus of Panama. In the Pacific the position is for them much less satisfactory, nowhere, perhaps, is it less so, and from obvious natural causes. The commercial development of the eastern Pacific has been far later and is still less complete than that of its western shores. The latter when first opened to European adventure were already the seat of ancient civilizations, in China and Japan, furnishing abundance of curious and luxurious products to tempt the trader by good hopes of profit. The western coast of America, for the most part peopled by savages, offered little save the gold and silver of Mexico and Peru, and these were jealously monopolized by the Spaniards, not a commercial nation, during their long ascendency. Being so very far from England and affording so little material for trade, Pacific America did not draw the enterprise of a country the chief and honorable inducement of whose seamen was the hope of gain, in pursuit of which they settled and annexed point after point in the regions where they penetrated and upon the routes leading thither. The western coasts of North America, being reached only by the long and perilous voyage around Cape Horn, or by a more toilsome and dangerous passage across the continent, remained among the last of the temperate productive seaboards of the earth to be possessed by white men. The United States were already a nation, in fact, as well as in form, when Vancouver was exploring Puget Sound and passed first through the channel separating the mainland of British America from the island that now bears his name. Thus it has happened that, from the late development of British Columbia in the northeastern Pacific and of Australia and New Zealand hi the southwestern, Great Britain is again found holding the two extremities of a line between which she must inevitably desire the


Previous Page Next Page