490-491

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Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6 pp490-491 300dpi scan (VERY LARGE!)

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planted on Johnston Island, 6OO miles from Hawaii, and the nearest point she can approach to her American territory, unless the next move be the occupation of Hawaii itself.

In one year, 1888, British cruisers took possession of the Savage, Suwarrow, and Phoenix groups and Christmas and Fanning islands, and in 1892 the occupation of the Gilbert and Ellice groups and Gardner and Danger islands completed the covering of the South Pacific trade from Johnston Island to Australia. The only unannexed group on that line remaining is the Samoan Islands, and they are closely surrounded by British and French possessions.

It has not been a blind grab for territory which has been going on in the South Pacific for six years past, but a working out of strategical schemes with definite ends in view; and the United States is the only great power interested in the Pacific trade which has not had the wisdom to acquire territory in localities where the great trade of the future will need guarding and supplying.

Samoa and Hawaii have been ripe to our hands for years. They are most advantageously situated for our needs, as bases from which our cruisers could work in time of war to protect our own trade and break up that of an enemy. The moral force of the United States is all that has kept European hands off these two groups to the present time, but should a strategic necessity for their occupation by either of those powers arise moral force would lose its power and we would have to be prepared to then fight for them or to retire at once from the absurd dog-in-the-manger position we have so long occupied.

To appreciate fully the question of ocean trade it is well to observe the policy which Great Britain has consistently and successfully followed for generations in developing and supporting her commerce. Trade with India was established, then the route was guarded. When the Suez Canal was cut a different disposition was needed; and they now have the complete chain of guard stations formed by Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Egypt, and Aden, the chain being continued to China by Ceylon, Penang, Singapore, and Hongkong. The route around the Cape of Good Hope and to Australia is covered by Sierra Leone, Ascension, St. Helena, Cape Town, Natal, Zanzibar, and Mauritius. To America the route is guarded by St. Johns, Halifax, Bermuda, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Barbados, Nassau, Balize, and Demerara.

The Falkland Islands at the southern extremity of America form a guard station for the trade passing around Cape Horn, and up to this point it is well to note that no station is farther than 3,000 miles from the next on the trade route it is designed to protect; and cruisers patrolling the routes, as well as merchant vessels traversing them, need never be farther removed than 1,500 miles from a base where supplies of coal and facilities for refitting are available. The foresighted statesmen of Great Britain have had a full understanding of the fact that the preservation intact of the circulation of British ships in the great arteries of trade is an absolute requisite to the well-being and even life of the British Empire, and this it is which has guided them in the establishing around the world a complete chain of guarded stations, from which her commerce can be supplied and succored, whether peace or war prevail. Until very recent times British trade in the Pacific has not been essential so far as the welfare of the Empire was concerned, and the guarding stations at the Falkland Islands, Fiji, and Victoria, British Columbia, may have been supposed to be sufficient for all needs; but it is worthy of note that as long ago as 1877 an essayist of acknowledged ability (Vice-Admiral Colomb, of the British navy) asserted, "I

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hold it futile to attempt the defense of the Pacific trade route by any sort of vessels which must rest on the bases of Vancouver, Fiji, and the Falkland Islands." It is also worthy of note that contemporaneously with the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, and the establishment from its Pacific terminus of regular steamer lines to China and to Australasia, the British bases began to be moved closer together; and when the probability of the building of the Nicaragua Canal was established, the movement toward the trade center at Hawaii became a very rapid one.

At present, instead of the wide gaps in the British system of 3,000-mile stations, which existed when the Falkland Island station was 7,900 miles from that at Vancouver and 6,700 miles from that at Fiji, which in turn was 4,800 miles from Vancouver, they have established the flag of the Empire at Easter Island, 2,400 miles from the Falkland group, which is in turn 600 miles from newly acquired Ducie Island, from where Pitcairn Island is 300, and the Cook group still farther, 1,800 miles, on a line toward Fiji. On the line from Fiji to Vancouver the gap has been shortened to 2,900 miles from Johnston Island to Vancouver, and all the intermediate territory from Johnston Island to Fiji is under the British flag.

Other stations are still needed, and British strategists make no secret of the assertion that on the outbreak of war with a maritime power, a necessary first move, unless the Pacific trade were to be abandoned, would be the occupation and retention of Hawaii, Guadalupe Island, off the coast of Lower California, and one of the islands in the Bay of Panama, with a reliance on the friendship or fears of the South American States for depots at Callao and Valparaiso. As a matter of fact, they have such a depot at present in the harbor of Callao.

Now, Mr. Speaker, sentiment has not hoisted the British flag over these isolated ports, which, to maintain in a state of efficiency, are a source of great expense without any apparent return. Their coal depots, storehouses, repairing facilities, and at salient points batteries and garrisons, are provided by a business instinct purely, which recognizes that the trade which is the lifeblood of the empire must be efficiently guarded; and centuries of experience have taught them the proper means to employ.

If there is a gap in the guard stations of the Pacific trade at present, or a salient point which should be possessed, and Hawaii is such a point, sentiment, which does not trouble our British friends, will not prevent their cruisers, under the direction of far-seeing statesmen, whose aim is to secure any and every advantage for British trade, from seizing and holding, when the time to them seems propitious, just what is thought necessary to strengthen the weak places in their trade-route patrol.

War ships to patrol a trade route efficiently, to guard their own commerce and damage that of an enemy, require bases from which to operate with the certainty of finding their necessities supplied at any one of them. Merchant vessels in time of war require them as points of rendezvous and refuge, and, as we have seen, Great Britain has foreseen the necessities and provided such bases at convenient points. No other nation has this immense advantage, although France and Germany are making great efforts, the former in Africa, Asia, and Australasia, and the latter, so far, in Africa and Australasia only, where coal depots and bases for naval operations have been established.

The United States has the right to establish coal depots in Samoa and Hawaii, and at present small supplies exist at both places; but


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