Frederick William Holls.

The peace conference at The Hague, and its bearings on international law and policy online

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used which, at first view, would seem to have con-
side ralile force, namely : that even if immunity be
granted to private property, in so far as it is not
contraband of w^ar, a new cpiestion more intricate
would immediately arise, namely : that of defining
wdiat is to be understood to-day as contraband of
war. And we are reminded that, in a recent war
between two great Powers, coal, breadstuff s, rice, and
even merchant ships were regarded as contraband.
But I certainly do not need to tell such an intelligent
body as this, made up of men accustomed to great
and difficult negotiations, that the difficulties in the
way of a second step in a matter of this kind do not


constitute an argument wliicli should prevent our Chapter vi
taking the first step. The wiser view would seem
to be to take the first step, and having taken that, to
determine how we can take the second.

" Nor can I deny that efforts in behalf of the cause
which we maintain have been weakened by some
injudicious arguments. It must be acknowledged
that more harm tlian good has been done by some of
the arguments which liken private property on the
sea, in all respects, to private property on land, in
time of war. But this proves nothing against the
overwhelming mass of arguments which, if this were
the proper time and place for their presentation,
could be cited in favor of our proposal. If the
merits of the question itself were under discussion
at this moment, if there were not other subjects upon
which the attention of the world is concentrated
and which absorb our activity, I would call your
attention to the immense losses to which all nations
are exposed under the present system, and to the utter
uselessness of these as regards their influence on the
final decision of great international questions. A
mere glance over the history of the Confederate The lesson of
cruisers during the American Civil War shows howdvii wa"!^"
serious would be the losses to the Powers directly
interested, and how ineffective the result under the
present system. Only three of the Confederate
cruisers did any effective work ; their prizes amounted
to 1G9 ships ; the premium of Insurance between the
United States and Great Britain increased from 30
shillings per ton to 120 shillings ; American mer-

;n8 THE peace conference at the iiacue

Chapter VI cliaiit .ships, aggregating nearly a million of tons,
Speech of were driven under the British flag; and the final
White. result was the almost total disappearance of the

merchant navy of the United States. If such a
result was obtained by the operations of three little
vessels, far from being of the first class, and poorly
equipped, what would luij^pen with the means which
are to-day at the disposal of great nations ? Yet all
the world knows that this employment of privateers,
and all the enormous loss thereby occasioned, had
not the slightest effect upon the termination or even
toward the shortenins; of the Civil War. If the loss
had been ten times as great they would still have
contributed nothing toward ending the contest. All
that was immediately effected was simply the de-
struction of a great mass of property belonging to
the most industrious and meritorious portion of our
population, resulting in the ruin of our sailors who
had invested in their vessels all their hard-earned
savings. The more remote general effect was to
leave throughout our country a general resentment,
sure to be the cause of new wars between tlie United
States and Great Britain, had not a wise treaty of
arbitration removed it. The only effective measure
for terminating war by the action of a navy is the
maintenance of a blockade.

" In these days transportation of merchandise by
land has so developed that the interruption of such
transport by sea cannot, in general, contribute
toward hastening the end of the war, but the effect
raav be so g;reat in the destruction of wealth accumu-


lated by liuman industry, as to require generations chapter vi
to repair the loss, and thus the whole world is made
to suffer.

" Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Conference : No separate

j_i A • r\ 1 i • • i • i 1 • 1 interests on

the American Delegation is not, in this matter, advo- the part of
eating the j^articular interests of our own country, yj^t^s!'^^'^
We know well that under existing circumstances if
war should break out loetween two or more European
Powers, there would immediately be an enormous
transfer of freight and vessels to neutral countries,
and that from this the United States, as in all proba-
bility one of these neutral countries, would doubtless
reap enormous pecuniary advantages. But my Gov-
ernment lays no plans for gaining advantages of this
sort. Might I not be permitted here to say that a
characteristic trait of my fellow citizens has been
imperfectly understood in Europe. Europeans sup-
pose generally, that the people of the United States
are an eminently practical people. That is true, but
it is only half the truth. The people of the United
States are not only devoted to practical aims, but
they are even more devoted to ideals. There can be
no greater error in considering the United States, or
in dealing wdth them, than to suppose that American
citizens are guided solely by material interests. Our
own Civil War shows that, from first to last, material
considerations were entirely subordinate to ideal, and
that nearly a million of lives, and almost ten thou-
sand millions of dollars, w^ere freely sacrihced to
maintain the ideal of our union as a Nation, and
not as a mere confederation of petty states.


Chapter VI

Speech of



'■'■ 1 do not say this boastfully, but I say it that
you may know what I mean when I say that the
people of the United States are not only a practical
people, but idealists as regards this question of the
immunity of private property on the high seas. It
is not a question of merely material interest for us ;
it is a question of right, of justice, of progress toward,
a better future for the entire world, and so my fellow
countrymen feel it to be.

" In the name, then, of the Delegation of the
United States, I support the motion to refer the
whole question to a future conference. And in
doing so permit me, in the name of the nation which
I represent, to commend the consideration of this
whole subject to all those present in this Conference,
and especially to the eminent lawyers, to the masters
in the science of International Law^, to the statesmen
and diplomatists of the various countries here repre-
sented, in the hope that this question may not only
be contained in the programme of the next Confer-
ence which shall be assembled, but that it shall
receive thorough discussion based upon full examina-
tion of the many questions involved, and from all
points of view. The solution of this great question
will be an honor to all those wdio have participated
or who shall participate in it, and a lasting benefit to
all the nations of the earth."

Upon motion of M
speech of Mr. White
the minutes.

Rahusen of Holland the
was spread in exte7iso upon


Count Nigra of Italy cordially supported the prop- chapter vi
osition of the Second Conunittee, as reported by Speech ..f
M. de Martens. He called attention to the fact that
the Italian Government did not only proclaim its
respect for private propert}' on the high seas diplo-
matically, but had sanctioned the principle in its laws.
He referred particularly to an article in the Treaty
of Commerce between Italy and the United States,
which provides, under the reserve of reciprocity, a
recognition of the inviolability of such property. He
desired that official notice should l^e taken of this
declaration. The President directed the declaration
to be entered upon the minutes, and announced that
the question now was upon the adoption of the
report of the Committee.

Lord Pauncefote of England announced that in Abstention of
the absence of instructions from their Government, audVrauce.'"
the British delegates were obliged to abstain from
votinu'. M. Bourcreois of France made a similar dec-
laration on behalf of himself and his colleagues.
Thereupon the report of the Committee was adopted
unanimously, and, in the language of the American
Commission, in their report, " the way is paved for
a future careful consideration of the subject, in all its
bearings, and under more propitious circumstances."



A HISTORY of a diplomatic gathering like the Peace
Conference would be incomplete without some refer-
ence, however brief, to its daily and social life and
Noostenta- Bcjoud the dccoratious of the opening day, and
play. the continued flying of flags of the various delega-

tions at their hotels, there was little to attract the
notice of the average resident or stranger at The
Hague, or to inform him that anything unusual
was going on. The Conference was eminently a
businesslike body, without ostentation or display of
any kind. On two occasions only, namely, at the
reception by the Queen at the Palace in The Hague
and at the Royal dinner at the palace in Amster-
dam, did the members appear in full uniform. At
all other times the spectacle of about one hundred
strangers walking or driving about in the streets and
parks, and at Scheveningen, was not of a kind
to impress the imagination or to attract particular
attention. Tlie meetings, which were usually held
from ten o'clock in the morning until noon, and



from two until live or six o'clock in the afternoon, Chapter vii
were so arranged, that in general no single member
of tlie Conference should )je required to attend more
than four or live meetings during the week, but this
rule was l)y no means absolute, and especially the
expert members of the First and Second Connuittees
were kept extremely busy from day to day during
the term of their deliberations.

The Netherlands Government extended a hospital- The hospital-
ity which could not have been more complete, more Netl'ierh'uids
thoughtful, or more generous. One of its pleasantest ^'°'''^'''"""^"^-
features was certainly the daily luncheon at the
House in the Wood, sumptuously served, and afford-
ing an opportunity of daily intimate and unrestrained
personal intercourse and acquaintance, the value of
which can hardly be overestimated. The grouping
of the various delegates at the luncheon tables
changed from day to day, with the result that rarely
if ever has a gathering of this size and character
been attended with such complete personal acquaint-
ance among all the members, even those whose ■•
duties and tastes were most diverse.

On the evening of May 24, Their Majesties the Royal recep-
Queen of the Netherlands and the Queen Mother j^"e"
gave a grand soiree in honor of the Conference at
the Royal Palace at The Hague. Besides the mem-
bers of the Conference, the Diplomatic Corps and
the entire court society of The Hague had been
invited, and the scene was one of great brilliancy.
Before the general reception the members of the Con-
ference were individually presented to Their Majes-

:V2i Tin: rEACK conference at the HAGUE


Chapter Yii tics, wlio spokc to eacli of them most gracious words
of welcome. On July 6, Their Majesties gave a state
dimier in honor of the Conference at the Royal
Palace in Amsterdam, the guests being conveyed to
and from Amsterdam by special train. At this occa-
sion the members were again presented to Their
Majesties, who congratulated them upon the prog-
ress of their ^vork, and after the dinner Queen
Wilhelmina proposed the toast to the health of all
the Sovereigns and heads of state rej^resented at the
Conference. In response Baron de Staal proposed
the health of Their Majesties, which toast it is need-
less to say was received with great enthusiasm.

On May 27 the Burgomaster and Municipal Coun-
cil of The Hague gave a grand concert to the Con-
ference, in the Hall of Arts and Sciences, and on
June 17 the Netherlands Government gave a mu-
sical and artistic festival, the climax of which was
an historical dance illustrating the costumes of the
various Dutch provinces. A great floral and eques-
trian fete and contest at Haarlem on June 4 w^as
also given in honor of the Conference, and will re-
main a most beautiful recollection for all who were
privileged to take part. The same is true of the
grand concert and ball at Scheveningen, given by
the Societe des Bains de Mer de Scheveningue on
June 12.

Besides these entertainments it is needless to add
that official society at The Hague was profuse in its
social attentions, and the same is true of the Diplo-
matic Corps, whose members vied with each other in



making the stay of their visiting colleagues agree- Chapter vii
able. A full description of the celebration of the
anniversary of American Independence on July 4,
at Delft, will be found in tlie Appendix, together
with the addresses delivered on that occasion. The
present writer ventures to hope that the remem-
brance of this festival will not be the least pleasant
among the recollections of the members from other

The Conference took a recess from July 7 to 17, Recess,
for the purpose of giving the various delegations an
opportunity of consulting their Governments, espe-
cially with reference to the Arbitration Treaty. On The interest
the part of the Japanese Delegation, this involved Japan,
cabling the entire text of the Treaty to Tokio, the
cost of the cablegram, according to information
received, being 35,000 francs. This incident is here
referred to as an illustration of the care with which
the work was done, and the seriousness with which
it was regarded. It may also serve to illustrate
the completeness with which the great and enter-
prising Empire of the far East entered into judi-
cial relations with the rest of the civilized world.
In view of later events in China, it should also be The Chinese
remarked that the distinguished Chinese delegate and
liis associates followed the discussions most carefully,
as was stated to the Conference on July 27 Ijy Lou
Tseng Tsiang. China did not, however, ratify the
Treaty on the Laws and Customs of War.

The distinguished first Chinese delegate, Yang Yu,
was the author of two 7)wts, which deserve to be


ciiapter VII iiicludcd ill tliis record. After a session of the Arbi-
TwoTOo^sby tration Committee devoted to apparently fruitless de-
'^ " " bate, Yang Yu, in descending the steps of the House
in the Wood with one of the American delegates,
pointed back to the meeting room, and sadly but
smilingly shaking liis head remarked, " Too much
talkee-talkee, too little doee-doee." It may confi-
dently be assumed that the report of this bit of
Oriental philosophy, as applied to the progress of the
Conference nj) to that date, had considerable effect
in thereafter accelerating the progress of the debates,
and in brino-ing; about an agreement. "When the
articles concernint»: Mediation were translated and
explained to Yang Yu, he thoughtfully but solemnly
nodded his assent, but remarked that the articles
seemed incomplete, in that they ought to provide that
the mediating Power should not '' charge too high
a price for its services in the cause of humanity."
When it is remembered that the Chinese diplomat
was speaking to a continental delegate, a mischievous
twinkle of his eye may be imagined, as he made this
allusion to the various compensations in the w^ay of
harbors and territory, which the celestial empire
was obliged to pay for the mediation of the Western
Powers at the end of the Japanese-Chinese war.'
Addresses At ail early session of the Conference, a committee,

nicaticms™"' cousistiug of Joiikheer van Karnebeek, M. Merey de
Kapos-Mere of Austria-Hungary, M. Eyschen of Lux-
emburg, M. de Easily of Russia, and M. Roth of Swit-

^ Aiiotlier record in ligliter vein may be permitted, being a copy of
the menu of the farewell dinner of the Comitc d'Examen. The orifji-


zerland, was appointed to examine and report upon chapter vii
the cominiinications whicli had been received, ad-
dressed to the Conference from outside sources. It
may well l)e imagined that the number of tliese com-
munications was very great. They consisted of
addresses, letters, and cablegrams, most of them
containing an expression of the wishes of the send-
ers for the success of the Conference. Furthermore,
a great number of societies favoring disarmament,
arbitration, or peace in general sent pamphlets or

nal was illustrated with a characteristic di'awing by the chairman,
M. Bourgeois, and read as follows : —

July L^5, 1899


Procks-yerbai- (Trks Confidentiel)

Conflit de Ilors d'oeuvi'es

Potage mediation

Consomme I'rotocol final

Filet de bwuf aux bons offices

Tourne dos d la guerre

Arbitrage de volailles

Cailles roties sur enquete

Salade an Compromis

Liste d'artichauds, sauce facultative

Kevision de pcches sans appel

Bombes glacees

Litige de patisseries

Fruits de circonstances

Fromages asphyxiants

Dessert amical

Vin oblijiatoire


ciiapur VII books, maiij of them containing plans for an inter-
national court of arbitration, or for an agreement
for disarmament or a limitation of armaments.

Pamphlets Most of tlicse pamplilcts were also addressed to

pro e . ^j^^ individual members of the Conference, and while
many of them were wholly impracticable and absurd
in their notions,^ an acknowledgment is certainly
due to the senders of some of the others, for the real
assistance which their work afforded to the members
of the Conference. This is more especially true of
the book entitled " International Tribunals, a Collec-
tion of the various schemes which have been pro-
pounded and of instances, since 1815," by W. Evans
Darby, LL. D., Secretary of the Peace Society, and
published by the Peace Society of London. This
book was found to be of great practical use by the
members of the Comite cVExamen, and it will con-
tinue to be extremely valuable to students of In-
ternational Law, who may hereafter compare the
schemes therein set forth with the treaty adopted
by the Conference. The plan for an International
Tribunal, carefully elaborated by a committee of the
New York State Bar Association, which consisted of
Messrs. W. Martin Jones, William D. Veeder, and
Edward G. Whitaker, w^as almost identical with the
plan proposed on behalf of the American Govern-
ment, and was distributed, together with a memorial

' A plan for a governmental Insurance Company to underwrite
losses sustained in any war declared to be "just " by the directors of
the Company ; and a proposition to elect Prince Eitel Friedrich, the
second son of the German Emperor, king of France, in the interests of
peace, may be cited as representative examples.


and various other papers, to all members of the chapter vii

It may be added that the American Commission communica-
received a very large number of telegrams and letters Ameri.'-an'^
expressing sympathy and good wishes, and emanat- ^°"""'**'^^""'
ing from the most diverse sources. Every one of
these messages was gratefully acknowledged, and
their reception not only upheld the hands of the
American Connnission, but also made a more or less
profound impression upon the members of the Con-
ference from other countries, who regarded the in-
terest of the great New World Power of the West in
the cause of peace and arbitration, as a most signifi-
cant and important sign of the times. Besides all
of these communications, appertaining to the proper
w^ork of the Conference, the latter was, naturally,
perhaps, flooded with appeals and propositions not
in the least germane to its object. In many cases
written or printed appeals were followed up by the
appearance of representatives or delegations from
nearly every oppressed nationality of the world.
The Poles, Finns, Armenians, Macedonians, and Appeals of
Young Turks — to mention no others — sent repre- "jatkniaiities.
sentatives asking for action on the part of the Con-
ference in behalf of their fellow citizens, and basing
their arguments upon very simple logic. Peace, they
one and all declared, Avas not permanently possible
without justice; and justice, they protested, w^ould
not be completely established until their own par-
ticular aspirations had been satisfied. Several of
them endeavored to emphasize their requests by the


CLapttr \ii positive threat that unless they were given what

they eonsiclered a fair liearing, they would seize the

occasion of the Peace Conference as a most fitting

time for a revolutionary outbreak, which they hoped

would emljarrass the Conference and turn it into a

laughing-stock. This is not the occasion to inquire

into the merits of any of the cases so eloquently

pleaded before the separate delegations, especially

before the American Commission, nor was it possible

at The Hague to enter into any discussion with the

sincere and earnest advocates of these various causes

upon the subject of the alleged bad faith or general

wickedness of this or that Power represented at the


Pathological 111 the study of political pathology it is both inter-
observations. ,. ITil 1 ,1CT r

estmg and sad to observe how the leelmg oi oppres-
sion and injustice blinds the vision of its victims, so
that they refuse to see not only any possible good on
the part of their oppressors, but also the impossibility
of any attainable progress which does not relieve
their own immediate necessities. Every meritorious
cause, in the whole world, racial, political, or other-
wise, is benefited, or most assuredly not injured,
by the results of the Peace Conference. But to the
minds of many of the sincere and honest men who
could not see that tliej' were demanding impossi-
bilities, the Conference itself, by turning the cold
shoulder upon their appeals, appeared to be giving
a stone where bread was legitimately asked and
confidently expected.

Disappointment at the results of the Conference


was also expressed, and was probably sincerel}" chapter vii
felt, on the part of many so-called "friends of peace," Disappoint-
who held that too many concessions were made to " friends of
what they were pleased to call the "evil spirit of war." ^^^*^*^'
The Conference did not denounce war in general
terms, nor did it declare it or believe it to be evil
under all circumstances. It is not recorded that the
directors of a new railway, at the time of the first
introduction of this mode of transportation, found it
necessary to denounce stage-coaches, or that they
regarded horses as worthy of being condemned
forever and under all circumstances. They contented
themselves, it may be assumed, with furnishing a
better alternative, and thus allowed full play to the
force of events.

It was a conference of practical men of affairs, not
of dreamers and enthusiasts, which sat at The Hague,
and its work is to be judged accordingly.

Up to the very last day there was danger that Last dangers

. (> 1 A 1 • ^*^ disagree-

unannnity ni the adoption, especially or the Arbitra-meut.
tion Treaty, would after all be broken by a nega-
tive vote on the part of one of the great Powers,
which would inevitably have been followed by similar
votes on the part of several of the minor Govern-
ments represented. When on July 2o, the Arbitration
Treaty, under the reserve of the declaration of the
United States, was finally adopted unanimously, a
sigh of relief was heaved by all of the delegates who
were most concerned in the preparation of the Treaty
and the settlement of the various disputed questions
which threatened up to tlie last to wreck their entire


Chapter VII

Powers not

Attempt to
open the door
to Powei's

laljor. The substance of the work, representing all

Online LibraryFrederick William HollsThe peace conference at The Hague, and its bearings on international law and policy → online text (page 23 of 39)