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be full and final.

It was really a great service rendered to the world by
Mr. McKinley and Secretary Hay; their action was far-
seeing, prompt, bold, and successful.

Yet another subject of contention was the exclusion of
sundry American insurance companies from Germany,
due in part to a policy of "protection," but also to that
same distrust of certain American business methods which
had given me much trouble in dealing with the same ques-
tion at St. Petersburg. The discussions were long and
tedious, but resulted in a sort of modus vivendi likely to
lead to something better.

The American sugar duties were also a sore subject.
Various writers in the German press and orators in pub-
lic bodies continued to insist that America had violated the
treaties; America insisted that she had not; and this
trouble, becoming chronic, aggravated all others. The
main efforts of Count von Billow and myself were given
to allaying inflammation by doses of common sense and


poultices of good-will until common sense could assert its

The everlasting meat question also went through vari-
ous vexatious phases, giving rise to bitter articles in the
newspapers, inflammatory speeches in Parliament, and
measures in various parts of the empire which, while
sometimes honest, were always injurious. American
products which had been inspected in the United States
and Hamburg were again broken into, inspected, and re-
inspected in various towns to which they were taken for
retail, with the result that the packages were damaged
or spoiled, and the costs of inspection and reinspection
ate up all profits. I once used an illustration of this at
the Foreign Office that seemed to produce some effect. It
was the story of the Yankee showman who, having been
very successful in our Northern and Middle States, took
his show to the South, but when he returned had evidently
been stripped of his money. Being asked regarding it,
he said that his show had paid him well at first, but that
on arriving in Texas the authorities of each little village
insisted on holding an inquest over his Egyptian mummy,
charging him coroner 's fees for it, and that this had made
him a bankrupt.

Speeches, bitter and long, were made on both sides of
the Atlantic; the cable brought reports of drastic repri-
sals preparing in Washington; but finally a system was
adopted to which the trade between the two countries has
since been uneasily trying to adjust itself.

Then there was sprung upon us the fruit question.
One morning came a storm of telegrams and letters stat-
ing that cargoes of American fruits had been stopped
in the German harbors, under the charge that they con-
tained injurious insects. The German authorities were
of course honest in this procedure, though they were
doubtless stimulated to it by sundry representatives of
the land-owning class. Our beautiful fruits, especially
those of California, had come to be very extensively used
throughout the empire, and the German consumers had


been growing more and more happy and the German pro-
ducers more and more unhappy over this fact, when sud-
denly there came from the American side accounts of the
scale-insects discovered on pears in California, and of se-
vere measures taken by sundry other States of our Union
to prohibit their importation. The result was a prohibi-
tion of our fruits in Germany, and this was carried so far
that not only pears from California, but all other fruits,
from all other parts of the country, were at first put under
the ban ; and not only fresh but dried and preserved fruits.
As a matter of fact, there was no danger whatever from
the scale-insect, so far as fruit was concerned. The
creature never stirs from the spot on the pear to which
it fastens itself, and therefore by no possibility can it
be carried from the house where the fruit is consumed
to the nurseries where trees are grown. We took pains to
show the facts in the case; dealing fairly and openly
with the German Government, allowing that the importa-
tion of scale-infested trees and shrubs might be danger-
ous, and making no objection to any fair measures
regarding these. The Foreign Office was reasonable, and
gradually the most vexatious of these prohibitions were

But the war with Spain drew on, and animosities, so
far as the press on both sides of the water was concerned,
grew worse. Various newspapers in Germany charged
our government with a wonderful assortment of high
crimes and misdemeanors ; but, happily, in their eagerness
to cover us with obloquy, they frequently refuted each
other. Thus they one day charged us with having pre-
pared long beforehand to crush Spain and to rob her of
her West Indian possessions, and the next day they
charged us with plunging into war suddenly, recklessly,
utterly careless of the consequences. One moment they
insisted that American sailors belonged to a deteriorated
race of mongrels, and could never stand against pure-
blooded Spanish sailors; and the next moment, that we
were crushing the noble navy of Spain by brute force.


Various presses indulged in malignant prophecies: the
Americans would find Spain a very hard nut to crack;
Spanish soldiers would drive the American mongrels into
the sea ; when Cervera got out with his fleet, the Ameri-
can fleet would slink away; Spanish ships, being built
under the safeguard of Spanish honor, must win the vic-
tory ; American ships, built under a regime of corruption,
would be found furnished with sham plating, sham guns,
and sham supplies of every sort. It all reminded me of
sundry prophecies we used to hear before our Civil War,
to the effect that, when the Northern and Southern armies
came into the presence of each other, the Yankee soldiers
would trade off their muskets to the foe.

Against President McKinley every sort of iniquity was
charged. One day he was an idiot; another day, the
most cunning of intriguers ; at one moment, an overbear-
ing tyrant anxious to rush into war; at another, a cow-
ard fearing war. It must be confessed that this was
mainly drawn from the American partizan press ; but it
was, none the less, hard to bear.

In the meantime President McKinley, his cabinet,
and the American diplomatic corps in Europe did every-
thing in their power to prevent the war. Just as long as
possible the President clearly considered that his main
claim on posterity would be for maintaining peace against
pressure and clamor. Under orders from the State De-
partment I met at Paris my old friend General Woodford,
who was on his way to Spain as minister of the United
States, and General Porter, the American ambassador to
France, our instructions being to confer regarding the
best means of maintaining peace ; and we all agreed that
everything possible be done to allay the excitement in
Spain ; that no claims of a special sort, whether pecuniary
or otherwise, should be urged until after the tension
ceased ; that every concession possible should be made to
Spanish pride; and that, just as far as possible, every-
thing should be avoided which could complicate the gen-
eral issue with personal considerations. All of us knew



that the greatest wish of the administration was to pre-
vent the war, or, if that proved impossible, to delay it.

For years, in common with the great majority of Amer-
ican citizens, I had believed that the Spanish West Indies
must break loose from Spain some day, but had hoped
that the question might be adjourned until the middle or
end of the twentieth century. For I knew well that the
separation of Cuba from Spain would be followed, after
no great length of time, by efforts for her annexation to
the United States, and that if such annexation of Cuba
should ever occur, she must come in as a State; that there
is no use in considering any other form of government
for an outlying dominion so large and so near ; that there
is no other way of annexing a dependency so fully devel-
oped, and that, even if there were, the rivalry of political
parties contending for electoral votes would be sure to
insist on giving her statehood. I dreaded the addition
to our country of a million and a half of citizens whose
ability to govern themselves was exceedingly doubtful, to
say nothing of helping to govern our Union on the main-
land. The thought of senators and representatives to be
chosen by such a constituency to reside at Washington
and to legislate for the whole country, filled me with dis-
may. Especially was the admission of Cuba to state-
hood a fearful prospect just at that time, when we had
so many difficult questions to meet in the exercise of the
suffrage. I never could understand then, and cannot un-
derstand now, what Senator Morgan of Alabama, who
once had the reputation of being the strongest represen-
tative from the South, could be thinking of when he was
declaiming in the Senate, first in behalf of the ' * oppressed
Cubans," and next in favor of measures which tended to
add them to the United States, and so to create a vast
commonwealth largely made up of negroes and mulattos
accustomed to equality with the whites, almost within
musket-shot of the negroes and mulattos of the South,
from whom the constituents of Mr. Morgan were at that
very moment withholding the right of suffrage. I could



not see then, and I cannot see now, how he could possibly
be blind to the fact that if Cuba ever becomes a State of
our Union, she will soon begin to look with sympathy
on those whom she will consider her "oppressed colored
brethren" in the South; and that she will, just as in-
evitably, make common cause with them at Washington,
and perhaps in some other places, and possibly not al-
ways by means so peaceful as orating under the roof of
the Capitol.

Moreover, the nation had just escaped a terrible catas-
trophe at the last general election; the ignorant, careless,
and perverse vote having gone almost solidly for a finan-
cial policy which would have wrecked us temporarily and
disgraced us eternally. Time will, no doubt, develop a
more conservative sentiment in the States where this vote
for evil was cast; as civilization deepens and advances,
better ideas will doubtless grow stronger; but it is sure
that the addition of Cuba to the United States, if it ever
comes, means the adding of a vast illiterate mass of vot-
ers to those who at that election showed themselves so

On all these accounts I had felt very anxious to put
off the whole Cuban question until our Republic should
become so much larger and so much more mature that the
addition of a few millions of Spanish- Americans would
be of but small account in the total vote of the country.

Then, too, I had little sympathy with aspirations for
what Spanish revolutionists call freedom, and no admira-
tion at all for Central American republics. I had offi-
cially examined one of them thoroughly, had known much
of others, and had no belief in the capacity of people
for citizenship who prefer to carry on government by
pronunciamientos, who never acknowledge the rights of
majorities, who are ready to start civil war on the slight-
est pretext, and who, when in power, exercise a despotism
more persistent and cruel than any since Nero and Ca-
ligula. No Russian autocrat, claiming to govern by divine
right, has ever dared to commit the high-handed cruelties


which are common in sundry West Indian and equa-
torial republics. I felt that the great thing was to gain
time before doing anything which might result in the
admission of the millions trained under such influences
into all the rights, privileges, and powers of American

But there came the destruction of the Maine in the har-
bor of Havana, and thenceforward war was certain. The
news was brought to me at a gala representation of the
opera at Berlin, when, on invitation from the Emperor,
the ambassadors were occupying a large box opposite his
own. Hardly had the telegram announcing the catastro-
phe been placed in my hands when the Emperor entered,
and on his addressing me I informed him of it. He was
evidently shocked, and expressed a regret which, I fully
believe, was deeply sincere. He instantly asked, with a
piercing look, "Was the explosion from the outside?"
My answer was that I hoped and believed that it was not ;
that it was probably an interior explosion. To my great
regret, the official report afterward obliged me to change
my mind on the subject; but I still feel that no Spanish
officer or true Spaniard was concerned in the matter. It
has been my good fortune to know many Spanish officers,
and it is impossible for me to conceive one of their kind
as having taken part in so frightful a piece of treachery;
it has always seemed to be more likely that it was done
by a party of wild local fanatics, the refuse of a West
Indian seaport.

The Emperor remained firm in his first impression that
the explosion was caused from the outside. Even before
this was established by the official investigation, he had
settled into that conclusion. On one occasion, when a
large number of leading officers of the North Sea Squad-
ron were dining with him, he asked their opinion on this
subject, and although the great majority indeed, al-
most all present then believed that the catastrophe had
resulted from an interior explosion, he adhered to his
belief that it was from an exterior attack.


On various occasions before that time I had met my
colleague the Spanish ambassador, Senor Mendez y Vigo,
and my relations with him had been exceedingly pleasant.
Each of us had tried to keep up the hopes of the other
that peace might be preserved, and down to the last mo-
ment I took great pains to convince him of what I knew
to be the truth that the policy of President McKinley
was to prevent war. But I took no less pains to show him
that Spain must aid the President by concessions to pub-
lic opinion. My personal sympathies, too, were aroused
in behalf of my colleague. He had passed the allotted
threescore years and ten, was evidently in infirm health,
had five sons in the Spanish army, and his son-in-law had
recently been appointed minister at Washington.

Notice of the declaration of war came to me under cir-
cumstances somewhat embarrassing. On the 21st of
April, 1898, began the festivities at Dresden on the seven-
tieth birthday of King Albert of Saxony, which was also
the twenty-fifth anniversary of his accession ; and in view
of the high character of the King and of the affection
for him throughout Germany, and, indeed, throughout
Europe, nearly every civilized power had sent its repre-
sentatives to present its congratulations. In these the
United States joined. Throughout our country are large
numbers of Saxons, who, while thoroughly loyal to our
Republic, cherish a kindly and even affectionate feeling
toward their former King and Queen. Moreover, there
was a special reason. For many years Dresden had been a
center in which very many American families congregated
for the purpose of educating their children, especially in
the German language and literature, in music, and in the
fine arts; no court in Europe had been so courteous to
Americans properly introduced, and in various ways the
sovereigns had personally shown their good feeling to-
ward our countrymen.

It was in view of this that the Secretary of State in-
structed me to present an autograph letter of congratu-
lation from the President to the King, and on the 20th of


April I proceeded to Dresden, with the embassy secreta-
ries and attaches, for this purpose. About midnight be-
tween the 20th and 21st there came a loud and persistent
knocking at my door in the hotel, and there soon entered
a telegraph messenger with an enormously long de-
spatch in cipher. Hardly had I set the secretaries at work
upon it than other telegrams began to come, and a
large part of the night was given to deciphering them.
They announced the declaration of war and instructed me
to convey to the various parties interested the usual no-
tices regarding war measures : blockade, prohibitions, ex-
emptions, regulations, and the like.

At eleven o 'clock the next morning, court carriages hav-
ing taken us over to the palace, we were going up the
grand staircase in full force when who should appear at
the top, on his way down, but the Spanish ambassador
with his suite ! Both of us were, of course, embarrassed.
No doubt he felt, as I did, that it would have been more
agreeable just then to meet the representative of any other
power than of that with which war had just been declared ;
but I put out my hand and addressed him, if not so cor-
dially as usual, at least in a kindly way; he reciprocated
the greeting, and our embarrassment was at least lessened.
Of course, during the continuation of the war, our relations
lacked their former cordiality, but we remained personally

In my brief speech on delivering President McKinley's
letter I tendered to the King and Queen the President's
congratulations, with thanks for the courtesies which had
been shown to my countrymen. This was not the first
occasion on which I had discharged this latter duty, for,
at a formal presentation to these sovereigns some time
before, I had taken pains to show that we were not un-
mindful of their kindness to our compatriots. The fes-
tivities which followed were interesting. There were din-
ners with high state officials, gala opera, and historical
representations, given by the city of Dresden, of a very
beautiful character. On these occasions I met various


eminent personages, among others the Emperor of Aus-
tria and his prime minister, Count Goluchowsky, both
of whom discussed current international topics with clear-
ness and force ; and I also had rather an interesting con-
versation with the papal nuncio at Munich, more recently
in Paris, Lorenzelli, with reference to various measures
looking to the possible abridgment of the war.

On the third day of the festivities came a great review,
and a sight somewhat rare. To greet the King there were
present the Emperor of Germany, the Emperor of Aus-
tria, and various minor German sovereigns, each of whom
had in the Saxon army a regiment nominally his own, and
led it past the Saxon monarch, saluting him as he re-
viewed it. The two Emperors certainly discharged this
duty in a very handsome, chivalric sort of way. In the
evening came a great dinner at the palace, at which the
King and Queen presided. The only speech on the oc-
casion was one of congratulation made by the Emperor
of Austria, and it was very creditable to him, being to
all appearance extemporaneous, yet well worded, quiet,
dignified, and manly. The ceremonies closed on Sunday
with a grand i i Te Deum" at the palace church, in the pres-
ence of all the majesties, the joy expressed by the music
being duly accentuated by cannon outside.

I may say, before closing this subject, that Thomas Jef-
ferson 's famous letter to Governor Langdon, describing
royal personages as he knew them while minister to
France before the French Revolution, no longer applies.
The events which followed the Revolution taught the
crowned heads of Europe that they could no longer indulge
in the good old Bourbon, Hapsburg, and Braganza idle-
ness and stupidity. Modern European sovereigns, almost
without exception, work for their living, and work hard.
Few business men go through a more severe training, or
a longer and harder day of steady work, than do most
of the contemporary sovereigns of Europe. This fact
especially struck me on my presentation, about this time,
to one of the best of the minor monarchs, c he King of


Wiirtemberg. I found him a hearty, strong, active-minded
man the sort of man whom we in America would call
"level-headed" and "a worker." Learning that I had
once passed a winter in Stuttgart, he detained me long
with a most interesting account of the improvements which
had been made in the city since my visit, and showed
public spirit of a sort very different from that which
animated the minor potentates of Germany in the last
century. The same may be said of the Grand Duke of
Baden, who, in a long conversation, impressed me as a
gentleman of large and just views, understanding the
problems of his time and thoroughly in sympathy with the
best men and movements.

Republican as I am, this acknowledgment must be made.
The historical lessons of the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries, and the pressure of democracy, are obliging
the monarchs of Europe to fit themselves for their duties
wisely and to discharge them intelligently. But this is
true only of certain ruling houses. There seems to be a
"survival of the fittest." At various periods in my life
I have also had occasion to observe with some care vari-
ous pretenders to European thrones, among them the hus-
band of Queen Isabella of Spain ; Prince Napoleon Victor,
the heir to the Napoleonic throne; the Duke of Orleans;
Don Carlos, the representative of the Spanish Bourbons ;
with sundry others ; and it would be hard to conceive per-
sons more utterly unfit or futile.

As to the conduct of Germany during our war with
Spain, while the press, with two or three exceptions, was
anything but friendly, and while a large majority of the
people were hostile to us on account of the natural sym-
pathy with a small power battling against a larger one,
the course of the Imperial Government, especially of the
Foreign Office under Count von Billow and Baron von
Eichthofen, was all that could be desired. Indeed, they
went so far on one occasion as almost to alarm us. The
American consul at Hamburg having notified me by tele-
phone that a Spanish vessel, supposed to be loaded with


arms for use against us in Cuba, was about to leave that
port, I hastened to the Foreign Office and urged that
vigorous steps be taken, with the result that the vessel,
which in the meantime had left Hamburg, was overhauled
and searched at the mouth of the Elbe. The German Gov-
ernment might easily have pleaded, in answer to my re-
quest, that the American Government had generally shown
itself opposed to any such interference with the shipments
of small arms to belligerents, and had contended that it
was not obliged to search vessels to find such contraband
of war, but that this duty was incumbent upon the bel-
ligerent nation concerned. This evidence of the fairness
of Germany I took pains to make known, and in my ad-
dress at the American celebration in Leipsic on the Fourth
of July declared my belief that the hostility of the Ger-
man people and press at large was only temporary, and
that the old good relations would be restored. Knowing
that my speech would be widely quoted in the German
press, I took even more pains to show the reasons why
we could bide our time and trust to the magnanimity of
the German people. Of one thing I then and always re-
minded my hearers namely, that during our Civil War,
when our national existence was trembling in the balance
and our foreign friends were few, the German press and
people were steadily on our side.

The occasion was indeed a peculiar one. On the morn-
ing of the Fourth, when we had all assembled, bad news
came. Certain German presses had been very prompt to
patch together all sorts of accounts of American defeats,
and to present them in the most unpleasant way possible ;
but while we were seated at table in the evening came
a despatch announcing the annihilation of the Spanish
fleet in Cuban waters, and this put us all in good humor.
One circumstance may serve to show the bitterness at
heart among Americans at this period. On entering the
dining-hall with our consul, I noticed two things: first,
that the hall was profusely decorated in a way I had never
seen before and had never expected to see namely, by


intertwined American and British flags ; and, secondly, that
there was not a German flag in the room. I immediately
sent for the proprietor and told him that I would not
sit down to dinner until a German flag was brought in.
He at first thought it impossible to supply the want, but,
on my insisting, a large flag was at last found. This

Online LibraryAndrew Dickson WhiteAutobiography of Andrew Dickson White (Volume 2) → online text (page 16 of 54)