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to trouble the amicable understanding subsisting be-
tween the two nations." A few days later, in the
farewell dinner offered to him. General Porter ex-
pressed the same sentiments: ''As iron is welded in
the fire of the forge, so friendships," he said, "are
welded in the fire of battle. . . . America is still
too young not to be grateful. . . . She will never
fail to remember that, when Washington, Rocham-
beau, and Lafayette met before the enemy at York-
town, the contact of these great minds lighted th,e
electric spark which showed the way to victory and
led the new world once for all towards justice and
liberty based on legal order and the rights of man."
On this same occasion, Mr. Delcasse spoke, "of the
two countries whom nothing separates at present
and whose legitimate aspirations, however far one
may look into the future, are not perceived to run
any risk of being ever opposed to each other." In
April, 1906, at the fetes given at Philadelphia in
honour of Franklin's memory, Mr. Root added,
as he handed to the French Ambassador for his Gov-
ernment a gold medal struck by order of Congress
after a special vote: "What we are offering is noth-
ing compared with the immense service rendered to
us by great French hearts. Yet, at least, it is a



FRANCE AND THE UNITED STATES 273

token that, amid changing conditions and the afflux
of citizens from all countries of the world, Americans
have not forgotten their ancestors. You will thus
know that, amongst Americans, there is a sentiment
in favour of France that persists, and that such a
sentiment, amongst such a people, is a real and great
fact, which must be taken into account. As far as
we are concerned, we remain true and loyal friends
to France." Then there was Mr. Roosevelt, who
telegraphed to Mr. Fallieres to assure him of the
special place occupied by France in the heart of the
United States, to whom she ''rendered invaluable
services in what was certainly the most critical pe-
riod of their history." Again, on the 23d of March,
1907, Mr. Henry White, the Union's new Ambassa-
dor, when entering on his functions, declared to Mr,
Fallieres that the American Government esteemed it
an honour to "strengthen" the ties of friendship bind-
ing them to France. And, once more, he made use of
the same language when assisting, on the 4th of July,
at the celebration of the American National Fete.

These speeches define the altogether peculiar na-
ture of the bonds created between France and the
United States by a tradition of more than a century
old. True, one may wish these ties to become still
closer, through a reciprocal, more complete, and bet-
ter informed comprehension of the respective vir-
tues of the two nations. The wish may be expressed
that Americans, instead of merely seeing in France
a country of elegance, literature, and art, might have
a juster notion of her resources, strength, and aspira-



274 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

tions. This is a progress to be desired and one that
is reaUzable. But, while working with a view to its
being brought about, there should be no under-esti-
mation of what has already been achieved. If the
French established in the United States are few in
number and exercise but small influence ; if the Irish
immigrants, not long ago our warmest friends, have
been alienated from us by our religious policy, on
the other hand, our ideas and our culture are the
object of sympathetic curiosity all over the territory
of the Union. The efforts of the Alliance Frangaise,
which have been crowned with success, the ex-
change of lectures and lecturers between the Sor-
bonne, for instance, and Harvard University, have
contributed largely to make us known and appre-
ciated on the other side of the Atlantic. The cordial
welcome given to French travellers in America, and to
the American Colony in Paris, has added individual
friendships to collective sympathies. In Franco-
American relations, sentiment, which usually occu-
pies so small a place in politics, plays an indispu-
tably important role. It is the most active leaven in
cooperations sometimes imposed by circumstances on
the two peoples. There was no need of the Arbitration
Treaty of 1908 to guarantee that questions arising
between Paris and Washington will always be settled
in a spirit of good faith, good grace, and good will.
However, commercial interests, quite as much as
ancient sympathies, justify the maintenance of cor-
dial relations between France and the United States.
Bismarck used to assert that history and politics



FRANCE AND THE UNITED STATES 275

have nothing to do with trade; that tariff wars
prevent neither aUiances nor friendships, and that,
conversely, the consequence of the latter is not al-
ways an increase of trade. The example of France
and Italy has allowed it to be seen that this asser-
tion is not strictly accurate. And the example of
France and the United States tends also to discredit
it, since there is no doubt that the two countries'
intimacy has favoured and encouraged the exchange
of merchandise between them. If the trouble is
taken to glance at the sales made by France to the
United States, it will be seen that the upward move-
ment has been almost constant, showing an increase
of about 75 per cent in less than forty years. In
reality, these sales have passed through the follow-
ing phases {Special commerce) : —

In millions of francs

1860 219

1870 306

1880 332

1890 . . . ... . 328

1900 355

1907 402

We sell to the Americans more than we buy from
them. However, our purchases have gone up in the
same proportion as our sales.

In millions of francs

1860 139

1870 217

1880 731

1890 317

1900 509

1907 632



276 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

In considering these figures, it must be boxne in
mind that the development of such exchanges had
to contend against the double obstacle of American
and French Protectionism. France was the first
nation to be favoured by the United States with a
reduction in the duties on imported articles. By the
Treaty of the 30th of April, 1803, which settled the
terms of the cession of Louisiana to the States, cer-
tain privileges were accorded to our ships and our
products. In 1831, a second agreement, which re-
stricted in various particulars the advantages of the
previous ones, balanced the modification by lower-
ing, during a period of ten years, the import duties
on our red and white wines. After this, a long time
passed without any further negotiations. When, m
the year 1882, the United States began, by reason of
their commercial development, to feel the need of
having recourse to commercial reciprocity, the agree-
ments they negotiated were applied first to the States
of South America. The Dingley Tariff, which be-
came law on the 24th of July, 1897, enlarged the
possibility of fresh understandings. On the 28th of
May, 1898, the Paris and Washington Governments,
'^with a view to improving their respective countries'
commercial relations," concluded a first arrange-
ment comprising various reductions of duties. On
the 24th of July, 1899, a Treaty of Reciprocity was
signed. But it called forth keen opposition more
especially on the part of the New York and New
Jersey jewellers and goldsmiths. Indeed, none of
the treaties negotiated, in virtue of Section 4 of the



FRANCE AND THE UNITED STATES 277

Dingley Tariff, were ratified by Congress. Conse-
quently, the agreement of 1898 had to be fallen
back upon. On the 20th of August, 1902, an addi-
tional protocol extended its provisions to Porto Rico
and Algeria. Finally, in 1907, the United States
having signed a commercial agreement with Ger-
many which benefited, to the detriment of French
champagnes, German sparkling wines arbitrarily
called by the same name, France expressed the de-
sire, at once acceded to by the Government of the
Union, to enter into negotiations calculated to rees-
tablish an equality of treatment. The Treaty of the
28th of January, 1908, was the result. By the terms
of this Treaty, which, as its preamble indicated, was
intended to '' complete previous ones," French cham-
pagne wines were to benefit by a reduction of twenty
per cent in the import duty, France continuing to
apply her minimum tariff to Colonial produce and
articles of consumption coming from the United
States and Porto Rico, exception made for tobacco,
sugar, and things manufactured with them. More-
over, a technical commission of six members, three
being Americans and three French, was intrusted
with the task of studying certain modifications to
be introduced into the Customs regulations of the
two countries. This friendly cooperation is likely
to facilitate and develop exchanges between them.
Indeed, if the nature of such exchanges is exam-
ined in detail, it will be seen that they are capable of
being increased in the case of numerous articles. It
is true that our tissues, which form the most impor-



278 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

tant portion of our sales, are threatened by the cre-
ation of fresh manufactures. But, as in the case of
our skins, our Paris articles, our wines, our comes-
tibles, it lies in our power, by an improved organiza-
tion of our sales, to secure them a larger market. In
his excellent report on the Saint Louis Exhibition,
Mr. Andre Lesourd writes: ''The French trader has
certain false ideas which are hard to eradicate. He
thinks that aU rich Americans come every year to
Paris and can consequently buy in Paris. He thinks
that, as his business house is well known in Paris, it
is well known all over the world, and that those
Americans who wish to give him orders can do so
from America, simply from seeing his catalogues.
Now, though the rich Americans who visit Europe
every year are very numerous, still they do not con-
stitute more than quite a small minority of the
wealthy class." In the same order of ideas, Mr.
Lucien Bonzom, our Deputy Consul General at New
York, proposed in his 1906 report to create, in Fifth
Avenue, a sort of maison d'art, where our artistic in-
dustries might be all represented. He estimated
that, from the very first day, ''the turn-over would
be enormous." The equally enormous amount of
general expenses and the cost of installation have
so far caused French tradespeople to hold back. But
there is nothing to prevent the hope that the idea
will sooner or later be carried into effect.

The economic crisis which, between the autumn
of 1907 and the spring of 1908, raged in America
was prejudicial to Franco- American commerce. As



FRANCE AND THE UNITED STATES 279

might be expected, it diminished purchases and what
may be called touring expenses. Moreover, it cre-
ated some erroneous notions which needed expla-
nation for them to disappear. In the month of
November, 1907, being in want of specie, the Ameri-
can market applied to the Bank of France. Acting
in accordance with its statutes, the latter had already
sent to the Bank of England eighty millions of Amer-
ican gold eagles, which had naturally been despatched
to New York. The direct operation which it was now
asked to effect had a precedent. At the time of the
Baring crisis, the Bank of France had lent the Bank
of England seventy-five millions in gold, against
which the latter, as a guarantee of its indebtedness,
had handed in a check, being a British Treasury
Bond payable at three months' date. The Bank of
France replied, therefore, that it was ready to inter-
vene on the same terms, that is to say, with the
guarantee of the American Treasury. This condi-
tion, as was most justly remarked, was all the more
legitimate, since there exists no central Issue Bank
in the United States similar to the Bank of England,
and it is the Treasury which, in reality, acts as a
State Bank with regard to the American market.
There was, consequently, a double reason why its
intervention should be stipulated. Having been in-
formed of this reply, the American Government, for
constitutional reasons, did not think fit to give the
guarantee requested. The Bank of France, there-
fore, being no longer in presence of a State guarantee,
but of a private operation, was bound to obey its



280 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

statutes, which forbade such a transaction. Not
being correctly informed, the American press was
annoyed and took no trouble to disguise the fact.
''This refusal/' wrote the New York Herald on the
17th of November, '4s a measure as shortsighted as
it is useless." And yet we might say that it was
somewhat unwarrantable to seek to impose a re-
sponsibility on the Bank of France which the Ameri-
can Treasury refused to join in assuming. More-
over, no one could be ignorant that our Bank of
France has no right to give gold against credit paper.
On the other hand, how could it be supposed that
the Bank would take part in the issue of the three
per cent American Treasury Bonds, when it is for-
bidden to buy securities on its own account and
those that it can accept in guarantee of its advances
are exclusively French? One ought here to add
that, through the medium of the Bank of England, -
the Bank of France sent, during the crisis, more
than a hundred million dollars in gold to America.
This appreciable service is sufficient to prove that,
in conforming itself to its regulations, our National
Bank was in no wise animated by hostile sentiments
towards the American market.

Indeed, it is a well-known fact that, for some years
past, a more active share has been taken in Ameri-
can business by French capital than in times gone
by. No doubt, the scare of 1907 will, to some ex-
tent, lessen this cooperation for a while, but it will
not stop it. In spite of the competition resulting
from the rapid progress of American industry, the



FRANCE AND THE UNITED STATES 281

production of the two countries remains commer-
cially, in a large degree, complementary. The cot-
ton, cereals, tobacco, cotton-seed and oils, fruits,
meat, wood, mineral oils, both natural and refined,
and the machines that France buys each year, come
to fill up the lack of her soil or of her industry. In
return, French industry is distinguished so sharply
by the finish of its manufacture from that of the
United States that it is certain always to find on the
other side of the Atlantic a market which can still
be extended in notable proportions. Therefore,
business as well as sentiment justifies the intimacy
of our relations with America. How are these rela-
tions to stand the test imposed on them by the ne-
cessities of contemporary politics ?

II

On the 2d of December, 1823, President James
Monroe wrote : —

Seeing the free and independent attitude assumed by the
American continents, they ought not to be considered by any
European Power as a territory lending itself to more ample
colonization. We owe it to the frankness and friendly relations
that exist between the United States and the various European
Powers to declare that we should consider as being dangerous
for our peace and security any attempt on their part to extend
their system to whatsoever portion of this hemisphere.

We have never mixed ourselves up with the wars that these
Powers have engaged in with each other on questions concern-
ing themselves ; and it is not in our policy to do so.

We have not intervened, and we shall not intervene, in the
present colonies or dependencies of any European Power. But
in the States which have declared their independence and have



282 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

maintained it, and whose independence we have recognized, after
mature reflection and in accordance with the laws of justice,
we can only consider the intervention of any European Power
whatsoever, for the purpose of oppressing them or controlling
their destiny in any way, as being a manifestation of hostile
sentiments towards the United States.

These rules, which, in their author's mind, applied
only to the special situation created by the revolt of
the Spanish colonies, have become the guiding prin-
ciple of American policy. The practice of non-an-
nexation and, before long, of non-intervention which
was thus opposed to the European Powers in matters
affecting the New World, has assumed the value of a
dogma. And, by the attitude of the Powers with
regard to it, Americans have judged what sentiments
were held respecting themselves. With but few
exceptions, France has never caused them any anx-
iety. The deplorable intervention of Napoleon III
in Mexico was the only occasion of a dispute that
risked bringing us into open conflict with them. No
doubt, this conflict would have broken out, if the
war of Secession, at the beginning of the Mexican
adventure, had not monopolized the forces of the
Union, and if the Emperor Maximilian's tragic end
had not closed the incident later. However, it left
a certain coldness between Paris and Washington,
which made itself felt to our prejudice in 1870.
Since that time no further difficulty has arisen. The
making of the Panama Canal by France might have
been the cause of some fresh unpleasantness, if we
had carried it through. Being resolved on getting
the control of the Canal into their own hands, the



FRANCE AND THE UNITED STATES 283

United States would not have resigned themselves
to see it managed by a foreign company. The fail-
ure of the French enterprise, painful as it was to our
national pride, spared us by its completeness any
danger of future complications on this score. In all
other circumstances we have contrived, without
detriment to ourselves, to conform our action to the
doctrine of Monroe. We keep our colonies of Saint-
Pierre and Miquelon, with that of Guyana and what
else belongs to us of the European possessions in the
West Indies. But the United States do not threaten
them. Each time that a dispute has arisen between
us and a Latin Republic, the loyal and moderate
character of our action has always been appreciated
at Washington. Our controversy with Brazil re-
specting the frontiers of Guyana was settled by ami-
cable arrangement. In dealing with Venezuela and
its dictator Castro, we have shown a patience that
has been carried to excess, and has often been spoken
of as inclining to weakness by the Americans them-
selves. At any rate, they were gratified by our not
joining in the naval demonstration against Venezuela
undertaken in 1902 by the three Powers, Germany,
Italy, and Great Britain. And satisfaction was ex
pressed likewise when the Franco-English agree-
ment relative to Newfoundland settled a question
of difficulty in which American fishermen risked be-
ing sooner or later implicated.^

In a general way, France may be said to accept
the Monroe Doctrine. She accepts, at the outset

^ See Coolidge's book, already quoted.



284 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

of this twentieth century, even the larger scope of
the doctrine, known under the nickname of the ''big
stick." There is no need to explain this term; and
every one, to-day, is aware of the causes that have
brought about the gradual development of the orig-
inal doctrine and made it what it is. The imme-
diate object of the United States was to prevent all
European military action in the Latin Republics,
and, what is more, all European occupation of ter-
ritory. They could not, however, claim to protect
these Republics against the consequences of the
disregard certain of them only too often manifested
for their international engagements. The United
States were, therefore, compelled to exercise a sort
of preventive control over them, to act as an inter-
mediary between them and Europe, and to assume
the role, with regard to them, of a benevolent but
vigilant gendarme. It was in this character that
the Washington Government intervened in San Do-
mingo ; and, similarly, they will probably be obliged
to intervene in Venezuela. Having no desire to
acquire fresh territory in any part of the New World,
France is, consequently, without any motive for
seeking to oppose a system which, while it has no
juridical value, is of vital necessity to the Govern-
ment of the Union. She is, on the contrary, quite
disposed to acknowledge the "special interests"
which the United States claim in America, the more
so as she herself puts forward a like claim with re-
gard to Northwest Africa. Moreover, the United
States Government has never called on her to make



FRANCE AND THE UNITED STATES 285

sacrifices incompatible with her dignity. And, when-
ever she happens to be at loggerheads with any-
one of the lawless Republics of South America, she
is accustomed, of her own accord, to acquaint Wash-
ington with her intentions ; and to have recourse, in
the largest degree possible, to the good offices of
American diplomacy. This attitude is so much
the more agreeable to the Government of the Union,
as they have not always met with it, to the same ex-
tent, in the various other Powers. Bismarck used
to characterize the Monroe Doctrine as an 'inter-
national impertinence." And, a dozen years ago,
Great Britain, who since then has adopted a more
conciliatory tone, did not seem far from approving
this sentiment. By repudiating any design in op-
position to the principles that lie at the base of the
doctrine, France has strengthened the favourable
disposition of mind existing towards her in Wash-
ington.

Indeed, it is no longer on the American soil only
that the various European Powers are to-day ex-
posed to find themselves face to face with the United
States. If the Monroe Doctrine has evolved in its
reference to the New World, it has evolved also with
regard to the Old. What Boutmy wrote is true:
'^A nation of eighty million souls that sells wheat,
and coal, and iron, and cotton, to the whole world
cannot remain in an isolated condition. Her very
power lays obligations upon her. Her strength
confers on her a right. The right changes into a
claim. The claim resolves itself into the duty of



286 FRANCE AND THE ALLIANCES

pronouncing on all the divers questions formerly
settled by the agreement of European Powers alone.
These Powers themselves, in critical moments, turn
towards the United States, being anxious to know
the latter's opinion. And the Government of the
Union would lessen their influence in the eyes of the
world, if they shut themselves up in negative ab-
stention. Henceforward, the United States have a
policy of world-wide reference." Said Mr. Roose-
velt to me one day : "What is most lacking in our de-
mocracy is the sense of their larger responsibility."
This sense has developed with singular rapidity in
the last ten years. In order to be on good terms
with Americans, it is no longer enough not to inter-
fere with them in America. It is also necessary to
be in agreement with them in other parts of the
world. ^

When they ceased limiting their policy to Amer-
ica, they first extended their preoccupations to Asia.
This was a foregone conclusion. The law of their
expansion, in fact, carries them from east to west.
When, under cover of their high tariffs, their indus-
try needed outlets, they were obliged to seek them
towards the Pacific, in Asia. They began by peo-
pling California. Then they looked farther on.
They conceived the dream of a Pacific which should
be ''an American Mediterranean." On this ocean
the Hawaiian Islands, Samoa, part of the Marianne
Islands, the Philippines, and, last of all, the zone of
the Panama Canal, all these have staked out for

1 See our book, Notes on the United States.



FRANCE AND THE UNITED STATES 287

them the routes of the future. ^'Our products,"
Mr. Shaw, Secretary of the Treasury, exclaimed one
day, "will be transported over all the seas, and the
United States will become in reality, as they are des-
tined by nature to become, masters of the vast-
est of oceans." As a matter of fact, American
policy in the Pacific and in Asia has been, above
all, an economic one. Between 1896 and 1905,.
American importations into China increased from)
thirty-five millions of francs to two hundred and
sixty-five millions. In Corea, they rose, between
1903 and 1905, from one million nine hundred and
fifty thousand francs to no less than ten millions.
Within ten years, they increased in Japan from
forty to two hundred and sixty-five millions.
In these different countries, it was commercial in-
terests which held diplomacy in their leading strings.
At certain times these interests may have seemed
to clash with French ones. Not that France had
intentions of annexation or monopoly in any region
of the Far East, but because her alliance with Russia
necessarily associated her with the projects of the


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Online LibraryAndré TardieuFrance and the alliances: the struggle for the balance of power → online text (page 19 of 22)