Jennings C. (Jennings Cropper) Wise.

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Empire and Armament

The Evolution of American Imperialism
and the Problem of National Defence

Jennings C. Wise

Late Professor Political Science and International Law
Virginia Military Institute

G. P. Putnam's Sons

New York and London

Gbe "fcnicfterbocfcer press


Copyright, 1915



"Cbc Ifcnfcfccrbocfeer iprcss, IRcw U?orfe




IF I were asked to state what I believed to be the
most practical method of procedure for Ameri-
can pacifists, I should unhesitatingly answer, the
honest writing of history for the rising generation.
It may be patriotism to present the history of
one's country in the best possible light, but, in the
United States, we have gone beyond patriotism
by actually misrepresenting the facts to our own
advantage. It is just that kind of mistaken
patriotism which tends to convince the American
people that they have always been peculiarly just
and pacific, and that fosters among them the
growth and continuance of a spirit of intolerance
and aggression. The American people should
learn from history that the United States has not
been a white dove among political hawks, if only
that they may profit by the errors that have been
made in the past. If they were fully aware how
much they have provoked other nations, and how
little they have really contributed to the cause of
international peace, concerning which they talk
so much, and in which, by reason of their inde-
fensive condition, their interest lies, they would
regard international questions with a spirit more
conducive to that peace they profess to cherish.

vi Preface

The pacifists should impress upon Americans
the fact that foreign nations do not always accept
them at their own estimate, but naturally look
to the facts of history which are capable of a
construction adverse to the claim that the Ameri-
cans as a nation are of a peaceable, exclusive, un-
aggressive nature. We may with some assurance
point to the attitude of our Government in the
present diplomatic controversy with Germany as
evidence of the pacific nature of our people, but
there are those who attribute that attitude more
to a natural unwillingness to jeopardize interests
than to a, real love of peace. Certain it is, when
his rights are involved, the average American is
not yet "too proud to fight."

In this study of the evolution of American im-
perialism, it has been sought to disclose the po-
litical doctrines which gradually, step by step, led
to an aggressive national expansion, and to show
that between imperialism, with all its dangers,
and militarism there exists no essential connection.
It has been attempted, without cynicism, to stress
the fact that the American people have deluded
themselves into believing that, because they were
not militaristic, they were not aggressive or mili-
tant in their dealings as a nation with the world.
This it was attempted to do by dwelling concur-
rently upon an ever-readiness on their part to
resort to force to attain their political ends, not-
withstanding a persistent antipathy for militarism
and militaristic policies; that inherent antagonism



which has been persistently but erroneously cited
as proof of their pacific nature. The truth is,
popular history, in its utter falsity as written for
Americans, has actually succeeded in convincing
them that they are the most exclusive, amicable,
and just people in the world, when as a matter of
fact they have "spoiled for a fight" on every occa-
sion when it seemed advantageous for them to
provoke one, and have officially meddled in the
affairs of every country with which they have
come in contact.

Special attention has been devoted to Jefferson's
inconsistencies, not for lack of appreciation of his
greatness, but because his characteristics typify
the American people in respect to their sentiments
on war — self -professed peacefulness of disposition
coupled with an underlying spirit of keen ag-

That the United States has become a great
empire, practically without fighting for its ex-
pansion, I have attempted to show to be due not
to the fact that the American people have con-
tributed greatly to the avoidance of war, but be-
cause they have not been sufficiently opposed in
most cases to make war necessary.

The Monroe Doctrine I have not undertaken
to establish as good or bad, wise or unwise; but
the abuses of that doctrine, together constituting
our present Monroeism, which has become more
of a national fetich than a national shibboleth,
I have pointed out as sources of danger.

viii Preface

American imperialism in all its aggressiveness
I have shown to have been based on a doctrine
which has long been held up as a peaceful influence,
a fact which is thoroughly in accord with the
anomaly of American national character; for the
Monroe Doctrine, as shown by the history of its
pronouncement, was nothing more nor less than
an aggressive measure adroitly veiled in words of
a pacific sound.

It is not in a cynical spirit, nor through lack of
patriotism, that I have endeavoured to picture
Americans as others see us, but in the sincere con-
viction that an appreciation of the defects of our
national character may aid us in overcoming those

I may have erred in the judgment I have passed,
I may have been influenced too greatly by foreign
comment and criticism, but the fact remains that
abroad the impression of Americans is generally
an unfavourable one as to their spirit of tolerance
and respect for foreign rights. The reason is,
history is not written in the same way for Ameri-
cans and for foreigners. Errors exist in both
versions, it is true, but if we correct our own by
expunging the palpable evasions and distortions
of fact, we shall at least receive credit for good
faith, and the frank confession of political sins
in the past will do much to prevent their repetition,
as well as to convince the world that we are cog-
nizant of our shortcomings and sincerely desirous
of overcoming them.

Preface ix

Surely it cannot be unpatriotic to urge upon
Americans :

"Make it thy business to know thyself, which
is the most difficult lesson in the world."

J. C. W.

Lexington, Virginia,
June, I, 1915.



Preface ....... v


The Origin of a National Prejudice


I. — Historical ....

II. — The Revolutionary Period .
III. — Inadequacy of the Old Policy
IV. — The Hamiltonian Doctrine .

V. — The Federal Constitution .
VI. — The Washingtonian Doctrine




VII. — Jefferson and his Military Policy 76

VIII. — What Was the Jefferson Doctrine

of War? ..... 87

IX. — The Clay-Calhoun Doctrine .106

X. — The Monroe Doctrine . .121

XI. — The Jacksonian Doctrine . .135

XII. — The Polk Doctrine of Imperialism 156

xii Contents



XIII. — Jingoism Rampant . . .178

XIV. — Imperialism a Fact: Its Dangers . 193




XV. — Adequate Defence Indispensable

to Pacifism .... 227

XVI. — Adequate Defence Confounded

with Militarism . . . 250

XVII. — The Evolution of the False

Philosophy of War . . .281

XVIII. — What Is Adequate National De-
fence? 312

Bibliography 331

Index 337



The Origin of a National Prejudice



THE armies of mediaeval days were made up of
the retainers, dependents, and followers of
the nobility. The personnel for the most part was
unskilled, but a sprinkling of professional soldiers,
men who had acquired experience in war under
many banners and in many quarters, were ever at
hand seeking the employment of baron or king,
ready to shed their blood in the cause of the high-
est bidder. Many of the celebrated warriors of
feudal days whom we style knights were nothing
more than itinerant soldiers knighted in many
cases solely for their personal prowess and skill at

Most of the righting in which the untrained
bands of the Middle Ages engaged was petty in
nature, and even when the king summoned his
military chieftains to assemble their nondescript
forces to make war upon the so-called common
enemy, the cause of conflict was an individual and
selfish one, or at best an unpopular affair. The
plain soldier was primarily a plain civilian; that
is his welfare lay in peace. The military service


4 Empire and Armament

he was called upon to render his lord became a
burden by reason of its frequency, and his own
lack of personal interest in the issue. But he
paid his rent with his "sword and buckler," and
when the landlord called for the use of the vassal's
good right arm, with a curse ~.nd a groan the plough
was left in the furrow.

What was a burden to the common man was an
opportunity for the roving professional soldiery.
The interests of the two were as wide apart as the
sympathy that existed between them. Small
wonder then that the great mass of the people in
time acquired and then transmitted intense dis-
trust and hatred of the "trained soldier," to whom
they attributed so many of their ills. The feeling
was a most natural one. Not only were the pro-
fessional warriors closely identified in the minds
of the people with the useless fighting in which the
common man suffered most, but among the trained
soldiers there were none of the lofty ideals we find
in the armies of today. In character, the profes-
sional soldier was decidedly inferior to the un-
skilled man whom he regarded with such contempt.
And then there was slight reward for the plain
man who did his duty on the field of battle; the
fruits of victory went to the nobles and their mili-
tary experts ; the vassals returned to their neglected

The success of the king invariably meant gifts
of land or privileges to the military caste. The
common people belonged to the land. The more

Historical 5

ambitious the owner of the land the greater was
the military burden of the people. It was natural,
then, that, among the people, military service
was regarded with great disfavour in an age when
want of intellectual occupation made war the
favourite pastime of the higher classes.

At this time, military science was unknown.
Individual prowess and bravery won battles, the
fate of a battle frequently depending on a personal
combat between two knights. Under such cir-
cumstances, the science of war could never attain
a high degree of efficiency, nor could any general
or permanent military organization be effected
whereby to relieve the common man of his ever-
present burden, or to distribute the weight of
military service among the masses.

The Crusades did much to develop the idea of
co-operation between small military units united
for common action, and it is not too much to say
that to them may be traced the origin of larger
and more permanent armed forces than had been
hitherto employed. But it was not until the
reign of Charles VII. of France that any regular
attempt at organizing a standing army was made,
although at that time the Turkish janizaries had
been in existence for almost a century. As the
demand for trained soldiers increased, the profes-
sion of arms became more popular. Not only
were there skilful officers now to be had, as for-
merly, for a price, but "men-at-arms," as well;
and these men often banded together under their

6 Empire and Armament

own leaders and sold the services of their organiza-
tion. The Swiss mercenaries were in great demand
during the Middle Ages, their superior military
qualities often successfully deciding the issue of a
battle. The employment of mercenaries conse-
quently became popular, and soon general; so
much so that voluntary patriotic service ceased
altogether and also the practice of calling upon
quotas of unskilled fighting men. The mercenary
was, therefore, in a sense the liberator of the masses
from enforced military service, except in time of
war. In their freedom, the people tasted the
sweets of peaceful pursuits and grew all the more
antagonistic to compulsory military service. While
their distaste for personal military service even-
tually became traditional, their lack of respect for
the professional soldier, or the mercenary, was
always a present fact. Recruited from the very
dregs of society, and often of foreign blood, the
soldier, and consequently the profession of arms,
fell into disrepute. Even the redeeming features
of knighthood no longer existed, for chivalry was
sunk in a system of organization which afforded
no opportunity for individual feats of arms and
examples of personal skill.

Wide-spread dissatisfaction with the mercenary
system developed, however, with the increased
dependence upon the system. The great expense
of maintaining a mercenary force, and the proven
danger of intrusting the safety of the state to
hired foreigners of low caste, brought about a

Historical 7

reaction which led directly to a new system.
Gustavus Adolphus, Wallenstein, Louis XIV. and
his great marshals, and finally Frederick the
Great, each contributed something to military
science and much to organization. Together
they succeeded in reshouldering the military bur-
den upon the people, although all of them to some
extent employed mercenaries in their wars. In
theory, however, armies during the seventeenth
century were largely composed of volunteers, and
the people were more or less free to serve with the
colours or follow peaceful pursuits as they saw fit.
Economic and social conditions were such, never-
theless, that while no man was forced by the
state to serve in the ranks, yet, in fact, he was
compelled to seek a livelihood in the army. It
was not until 1798 that France, after the exhaus-
tion of her great levies in the wars she waged from
1792 to 1797, enacted a law establishing compul-
sory military service, an act which compelled all
Continental Europe to follow Napoleon's example,
so that today Great Britain and the United States
alone of all the great Powers rely on volunteers
for their armies.

In England, the development has been some-
what different from that on the Continent, and in
England, we find the source of American ideals.

The right to bear arms was inherent in .the
English people ; in fact, under early laws, was com-
pulsory. The feudal barons who, in their petty
struggles with each other, laid such a heavy burden

8 Empire and Armament

upon their vassals, were in turn required to support
their king in war. The same complaint which the
people made against the barons, the barons made
against the king, for they early objected to being
led out of the kingdom, and King John's insist-
ence upon foreign service was the principal cause
of Runnymede. The objection of the English
people to foreign service at the sole will of the
king or chief executive is reflected in every Ameri-
can constitutional document.

On the other hand, the English people from the
first displayed the keenest antipathy towards
mercenaries. Indeed, there were practically none
employed in England until the time of the Stuarts,
though a small force of Italian and German —
"Brabazon" — soldiers were hired by Henry VI.
in 1449, with which to suppress Jack Cade. To
their employment on this occasion is commonly
attributed the preservation of English freedom and
parliamentary government.

Removed by the isolation of the realm from the
maelstrom of continuous inter-state strife in
Central Europe, the people of the British Isles
in their formative period principally indulged
their warlike tastes in intra-state war. The wars
of the Continent had a direct tendency to evolve
a greater measure of central military power in
the states involved, in order that they might
contend the more successfully with their neigh-
bours, and in as much as a centralized power was
essential to the existence of their states, the people

Historical 9

submitted more or less willingly to the process of
centralization. But, in England, where frequent
encroachments from the outside did not intervene
to compel the surrender of individual liberties in
the common defence, the democratic spirit pre-
vailed. Indeed, not only were the very causes
which led the people of the Continent to accept
militarism almost entirely absent, but in England,
the people recognized the fact that centralized
military power meant for them a compulsory sur-
render, without compensating advantages, of
control over the state. Consequently, they re-
tained all military power in themselves, relying
upon militia rather than upon a trained and per-
manent army at the beck and call of a ruler or

The objection of the English people to the crea-
tion of an army, which might be used to establish
military tribunals and to overawe the people, is
apparent in a long range of constitutional de-
cisions and statutes of the realm. There are many
early statutes protesting against the Laws of the
Forest, and prohibiting martial law. Indeed, it
is difficult to discover when the principle that the
military must never be independent of or superior
to the civil power was first established. The
militia, the ancient defence of the realm, was re-
vived only seventeen years after the Norman con-
quest; the Norman ordeal of battle was abolished
in 12 13. So zealously have the English people
adhered to their early ideas that they have re-

io Empire and Armament

tained to the present day the constitutional
provision requiring the annual re-enactment by
Parliament of the laws for the government of the
army and navy, lest those laws become estab-
lished by custom independent of, and superior to,
the authority of the people.

In the Petition of Rights we find the following
significant complaint:

... of late great companies of soldiers and mari-
ners have been dispersed into divers counties of the
realm, and the inhabitants against their wills have
been compelled to receive them into their houses and
there to suffer them to sojourn, against the laws and
customs of this realm. ... (31 Car., ii.)

and again :

. . . certain persons have been appointed commission-
ers, with power and authority to proceed . . . accord-
ing to . . . martial law . . . and by such summary
course and order as is agreeable to martial law, and as
is used in armies in time of war, to proceed to the
trial and condemnation of such offenders, and then
to cause to be executed and put to death according
to the law martial. By pretext whereof some of your
Majesty's subjects have been by some of the said
commissioners put to death, when and where, if by
the laws and statutes of the land they had deserved
death, by the same laws and statutes also they might
and by no other ought to have been judged and exe-

. . . and that the foresaid commissioners, for pro-
ceeding by martial law, may be revoked and annulled

Historical n

. . . that your Majesty would be pleased to remove
the said soldiers and mariners, and that your people
may not be so burdened in time to come.

In the Bill of Rights we also find significant
clauses :

That the subjects which are Protestants may have
arms for their defence suitable to their conditions,
and as allowed by law.

That the raising or keeping a standing army, within
the Kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with the
consent of Parliament, is against law. (a. d. 1688.)

Knowing what were the early sentiments and
convictions of the English people, — sentiments and
convictions which have remained unaltered even
by three centuries of armed aggression and empire
building, — it is not difficult to understand the
views of the colonial Americans with respect to
military service, for their ideals were those of their
native country.

Throughout the early period of settlement in
the American Colonies, the old English localized
militia system was relied upon for purposes of
defence against the Indians, the French, the
Spanish, the Dutch, or whatever enemy might
threaten. Permanent armed forces did not exist,
though all men were liable to be called into military
service when needed.

In 1754, when the French and Indian War
threatened, and the Lords of Trade suggested that

12 Empire and Armament

an intercolonial conference be held for the purpose
of entering into "articles of union and confedera-
tion with each other for mutual defence of his
Majesty's subjects and interests in North America
in time of peace as well as war," a permanent
armed force for the Colonies was first discussed.

On June 19th, commissioners from Massachusetts,
Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New
York, New Hampshire, and Maryland assembled
at Albany, and, after arranging for the participa-
tion of the "Five Nations" in the war as allies of
the Colonies, adopted with some modifications
the plan proposed by Benjamin Franklin for inter-
colonial union. This plan provided, among other
things, for the appointment by the Crown of a
President-general, who was to nominate and com-
mission military officers, and for the enlistment
and pay of troops and the building of forts. But
the plan was everywhere opposed and rejected by
the Colonies, because they believed its adoption
would centralize colonial authority to such an
extent that the king could more readily usurp it,
and by the king and the English people on the
ground that it made the Colonies too powerful.
The final action in this first attempt at union
among the Colonies is a striking example of the
Englishman's inborn distrust of centralized power.
The very people the plan was designed to benefit
were as fearful that the military power it involved
would be turned against them as the Crown was
that the development of military strength in the

Historical 13

Colonies would make the Colonials too inde-
pendent — neither was willing to trust an army!
And here we should pause to consider how pleased
the French sovereign would have been had he
possessed a sturdy body of colonial subjects in
Canada out of whom to create an army of 20,000
men or more.



ENGLAND'S policy throughout the colonial
period was to discourage every development
among her American Colonies tending towards
independence of the mother country, but while
she succeeded in preventing the creation of a force
of trained soldiery, and saw to it that no navy
yards and arsenals were erected in the Colonies,
which might prove to be dangerous weapons in the
hands of her growing children, she could not sup-
press the British spirit of independence which her
own selfish policy aroused in them. There is no
need here to trace the events which led up to the
American Revolution. Suffice it to say that, in
1774, the Colonies began preparations for an
armed conflict with Great Britain.

The Congress which met in September at Phila-
delphia adopted a military measure it is true, a
measure providing for the higher officers of the
force to be raised, for the training of the troops,
and the procuring of arms and supplies, but still
the old plan of relying on the militia was adhered
to, and no troops were to be called out until

The Revolutionary Period 15

actually needed for active service. The Second
Provincial Congress which met in Philadelphia in
May, 1775, was endowed with power to raise and
support such a military force as it might deem
proper to resist the execution of the acts of Par-
liament. Under the powers conferred upon it by
this Congress, the Committee of Safety under-
took to organize militia companies and regiments
throughout the Colonies, designating a third part
of the force organized on paper as "minute men,"
who agreed to respond promptly to the call of the
committee when needed. Thus we see that, in
spite of the imminency of armed conflict, the people
of the Colonies were unable to abandon their old
military ideals and to create in their midst a reg-
ularly organized and trained body of soldiery.
The idea of a "standing army" was still too ab-

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