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\ The meeting of the first Peace Conference at The
'v>) Hague, on tlie 18th of May, 1899, marked the opening
^ of a new era in human history. In the world's great
^ peace movement it was an event of such cardinal sig-
nificance that the peace workers in all nations have
come by common consent to make the anniversary their
chief day for the annual celebration and public presen-
tation of their cause. The first Hague Conference was
in germ the true Parliament of Man. The dream of the
^ prophets and the song of the poets here found their first
■^ partial realization in plain prose. Only twenty-six of
"=^ the fifty-nine governments claiming independent sover-
^ eignty in 1899 were represented at the Conference ; but
^ so profound was the influence of the Conference, and
. so clearly was it recognized that it represented the
^ world's vitality and commanded its future, that at the
second Conference, in 1907, forty -four governments sent
w^lelegates, representing practically the whole world. The
second Conference made definite provision in its final
<^act for the meeting of a third Conference after substan-
^ tially the same interval as that between the first and
second Conferences ; and this means a fourth and a
fifth — it means that the Conferences will be regular;
and that in the lifetime of men now upon the stage the
International Congress, composed of the official repre-
sentatives of all nations, will assemble at stated times




to confer upon the mutual interests of the nations, as
the Congress of the United States meets reguhirly to
confer upon the mutual interests of the states m the
Union. This is what was involved in the memorable
meethig of the First Hague Conference in 1899.

To the history of this unique event the journal of
Andrew D. White, which, by the kind consent of The
Century Company, is reprinted in the present volume
from his Autobiography, bears a unique relation. Mr.
White was the head of our American delegation ; and
his careful journal, covering the whole period of tlie
Conference, is the only similar record which has been
published by any of the participants. It thus has a
value as an original historical document not unlike in
some respects that of Madison's journal in relation to
our Constitutional Convention of 1787; and it has the
additional value and charm of communicating the im-
pression of tlie general social atmosphere and environ-
ment of the Conference. It will thus have a hicrh and
abiding interest in international history, and its publi-
cation in the present form N\'ill certainly find a wide and
warm welcome.

]Mr. White's own distinguished services at the First
Hague Conference are so well known as to require no
notice here. His part in IIk; effort for the establishment
of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the fjreatest
achievement of the Conference, was preeminent, second
oidy to that of Sir Julian Fauncefote ; he made tlie most
important speech in the Conference in belialf of tlie im-
munity of private property from capture in maritime
warfare ; and he stood stanchly and influentially for
every great constructive measure of the Conference. He


worked no less earnestly in behalf of the measures aim-
ing to mitigate the inhumanities of war. The United
States has been reproached by humane international
men for its oppositioit in the Hague Conferences to
the prohibition of asphyxiating bombs in war, an oppo-
sition in which at the Second Hague Conference it stood
alone. It must not be forgotten that the action of the
United States delegation at the first Conference was
against the protest of "Sir. White, the leader of the
delegation. In no way, perhaps, did Mr. White render
a greater service at The Hague than in the part he took
in securing the adherence of (jcrmany to the plan for
the Permanent Court of Arbitration ; and the pages of
his journal devoted to this matter, including the full
text of his letter to Baron von BUlow, will always
possess a peculiar interest.

The history of the First Peace Conference at The
Hague has been written by Frederick W. Holls, the
secretary of the American delegation. This work was
published in 1900, the year following the Conference.
Soon after the second Conference Dr. James Brown
Scott, technical delegate of the United States to the
second Conference and therefore stanclmg in a similar
relation to the American delegation at that Conference
to that in which Mr. Holls stood to the American delega-
tion at the first Conference, published his exhaustive and
valuable work, " The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899
and 1907." The American addresses at the Second
Hague Conference have been gathered into a special
volume by Dr. Scott, with prefatory surveys of the
work of the second Conference by himself and by Hon.
.Joseph H. Choate and General Horace Porter of the


American delegation at the second Conference. There
is also an admirable volume upon '' The Two Hague
Conferences" by Professor William I. Hull, who was
present at The Hague in a journalistic capacity during
the time of the second Conference in 1907, and whose
book appeared the following year. In all of these vol-
umes will be found the record of Mr. White's part
in the first Conference, with reports especially of his
address upon the exemption of private property from
capture at sea in time of war, the report in Mr. Holls's
history being complete. Mr. Holls also gives the full
text of the address by Mr. White in honor of Hugo
Grotius, in the Great Church of Delft, on July 4, 1899,
when, in the presence of all the members of the Peace
Conference, the Dutch Government and tlie diplomatic
corps accredited to The Hague, and other distinguished
visitors, he laid upon the tomb of Grotius a silver
wreath in belialf of the government and people of the
United States.

There are of course various valuable European works
upon the Hague Conferences, but reference is made
here simply to the American works which are easily
available, and which together furnish our people with
a complete record of the great work in wliich Mr. White
was so conspicuous a figure. Bnt among all the works
relating to the first Conference, no other can ever possess
the peculiar interest or make the strong personal appeal
of Mr. White's journal, the careful preparation of which
during the very course of the Conference was one of the
most fortunate incidents of modern international history.

E. D. M.


ON the 24th of August, 1898, the Russian Government
proposed, hi the name of the Emperor Nicholas II,
a conference which should seek to arrest the constantly
increasing development of armaments and thus contribute
to a durable peace ; and on the 11th of January, 1899,
his minister of foreign affairs. Count ^Nluravieff, having
received favorable answers to this proposal, sent forth a
circular mdicating the Russian view as to subjects of dis-
cussion. As to the place of meeting, there were obvious
reasons why it should not be the capital of one of the
greater powers. As to Switzerland, the number of an-
archists and nihilists wh© had taken refuge there, and
the murder of the Empress of Austria by one of them
shortly before, at Geneva, in broad daylight, had thrown
discredit over the ability of the Swiss Government to
guarantee safety to the conference ; the Russian Govern-
ment therefore proposed that its sessions be held at The
Hague, and, this being agreed to, the opening was fixed
for the 18th of :\Iay.

From the first there was a misunderstanding through-
out the world as to what the Emperor Nicholas really
proposed. Far and near it was taken for granted that he
desired a general disarmament, and this legend spread



rapidly. As a matter of fact, this was neither his pro-
posal nor his purpose; the measures he suggested heing
designed " to put an end to the constantly increasing
development of armaments."

. At the outset I was skeptical as to the whole matter.
What I had seen of the Emperor Nicholas during my
stay in Russia had not encouraged me to expect that he
would have the breadth of view or the strength of pur-
pose to carry out the vast reforms which thinking men
lioped for. I recalled our conversation at my reception
as minister, when, to my amazement, he showed himself
entirely ignorant of the starving condition of the peas-
antry throughout large districts in the very heart of the
empire. That he was a kindly man, wishing in a languid
way the good of his country, could not be doubted ; but
the indifference to everything alx>ut him evident in all his
actions, his lack of force even in the simplest efforts for
the improvement of his people, and, above all, his yield-
ing to the worst elements in his treatment of the Baltic
provinces and Fhiland, did not encourage me to believe
that he would lead a movement against the enormous
power of the military party in his vast empire. On this
account, when the American newspapers prophesied that 1
was to be one of the delegates, my feelings were strongly
against accepting any such post. r>ut in due time the
tender of it came in a way very different from anything I
liad anticipated: President McKinley cabled a personal
request that 1 accept a i)osition on the delegation, and
private letters from very dear friends, in whose good
judgment I had confidence, gave excellent reasons for
my doing so. At the same time came the names of my
ccilleagues, and this led me to feel that the delegation


was to be placed on a higher plane than I had expected.
In the order named by the President, they were as
follows : Andrew D. White ; Seth Low, President of
Columbia University ; Stanford Newel, Minister at The
Hague ; Captain Mahan, of the United States navy ;
Captain Crozier, of the army ; and the Hon. Frederick
W. Holls as secretary. In view of all this, I accepted.

Soon came evidences of an interest in the confer-
ence more earnest and widespread than anything 1 had
dreamed. Books, documents, letters, wise and unwise,
thoughtful and crankish, shrewd and childish, poured in
upon me ; in all classes of society there seemed ferment-
ing a mixture of hope and doubt; even the German
Emperor apparently felt it, for shortly there came an
invitation to the palace, and on my arrival I found that
the subject uppermost in his mind was the approaching
conference. Of our conversation, as well as of some other
interviews at this period, I speak elsewhere.^

On the 16th of May I left Berlin, and arrived late in
the .evening at The Hague. As every day's doings were
entered in my diary, it seems best to give an account of
this part of my life ui the shape of extracts from it.

May 17, 1899.

This morning, on going out of our hotel, the Oude
Doelen, I found lluit suicc my former visit, thirty -five
years ago, there had l)een little apparent change. It is
the same old town, (piict, picturesque, full of histori-
cal monuments a^jd art treasures. This hotel and the
neighbormg streets had been decorated with the flags
of various nations, including our own, and crowds were

1 See June 12, pp. 50-57, below.


assembled under our windows and in the public places.
The hotel is in one of the most attractive parts of the
city architecturally and historically, and is itself interest-
ing from both points of view. It has been a hostelry
ever shice the Middle Ages, and over the main entrance
a tablet indicates rebuilding in 162.5. Connected with
it by interior passages are a number of buildings which
were once private residences, and one of the largest and
best of these lias l)een engaged for us. Fortunately the
present Secretary of State, John Hay, has been in the
diplomatic service ; and when I wrote him, some weeks
ago, on the importance of proper quarters being secured
for us, he entered heartily into the matter, giving full
powers to the minister here to do whatever was neces-
sary, subject to my approval. The result is that we are
quite as well provided for as any other delegation at
the conference.

In the afternoon our delegation met at the house of the
xVmerican minister and was duly organized. Although
named by the President first in the list of delegates, I
preferred to leave the matter of the chairmanship entirely
to my associates, and they now unanimously elected me
as their president.

The instructions from the State Department were
then read. These were, in effect, as follows :

The first article of the Russian proposals, relating to
the non-augmentation of land and sea forces, is so inap-
plicable to the United States at present that it is deemed
advisable to leave the initiative, upon this subject, to
the representatives of those powers to which it may
properly apply.

As regards the articles relating to the non-cmplo^ment


of new firearms, explosives and otlier destructive agen-
cies, the restricted use of the existing instruments of
destruction, and the prohibition of certain contrivances
employed in naval warfare, it seems to the department*
that they are lacking in practicability and that the discus-
sion of these articles would probably provoke divergency
rather than unanimity of view. The secretary goes on
to sav that " it is doubtful if wars will be diminished
by rendering them less destructive, for it is the plain
lesson of history that the periods of peace have been
longer protracted as the cost and destructiveness of
war have increased. The expediency of restraining the
inventive genius of our people in the direction of de-
vismg means of defense is by no means clear, and, con-
sidering the temptations to which men and nations
may be exposed in a time of conflict, it is doubtful if
an international agreement of this nature would prove

As to the fifth, sixth and seventh articles, aiming, in
the interest of humanity, to succor those who by the
chance of battle have been rendered helpless, to alleviate
their sufferings, and to insure the safety of those whose
mission is purely one of peace and beneficence, we are
instructed that any practicable proposals should receive
our earnest support.

On the eighth article, whicli proposes the wider exten-
sion of " good offices, mediation and arbitration," the
secretary dwells with much force, and finally says : " The
proposal of the conference promises to offer an oppor-
tunity thus far unequaled in the history of the world for
mitiating a series of negotiations that may lead to im-
portant practical results." The delegation is therefore


enjoined to propose, at an opportune moment, a plan for
an International Tribunal of Arbitration which is an-
nexed to tlie instructions, and to use their hifluence in
the conference to procure the adoption of its substance.

And, finally, we are instructed to propose to the confer-
ence the principle of extending to strictly private prop-
erty at sea the immunity from destruction or capture by
belligerent powers analogous to that which such property
already enjoys on land, and to endeavor to have this
principle incorporated in tlie permanent law of civilized
nations. A well-drawn historical resume of the relations
of the United States to the question of arbitration thus
far is added, and a historical summary of tlie action of
the United States, hitherto, regarding the exemption of
private property at sea from seizure during war.

The document of most immediate importance is the
plan funiislied us for international arbitration. Its main
features are as follows :

First, a tribunal " composed of judges chosen, on ac-
count of their personal integrity and learning in inter-
national law, by a majority of the members of the highest
court now existing in each of the adhering states, one
from each sovereign state participating in the treaty,
who shall hold office until their successors are appointed
l)y tlie same body."

Secomlly, tlie ti'ibuiial to meet for organization not
later than six inontlis al'tt'i' llie treaty shall have been
ratified by nine powers ; to organize itself as a perma-
nent court, with such oflicers as may be found neces-
sary, and to i\x its own place of session and iviles of

The tliird article provides that " the contracting nations


will mutually agree to submit to the international tri-
bunal all questions of disagreement between them, ex-
cepting such as may relate to or involve thek political
independence or territorial integrity."

The fifth article runs as follows : "A bench of judges
for each particular case shall consist of not fewer than
three nor more than seven, as may be deemed expedient,
appointed by the unanimous consent of the tribunal, and
shall not include any member who is either a native, sub-
ject or citizen of the state whose interests are in litiga-
tion in the case."

The sixth article provides that the general expenses
of the tribunal be divided equally among the adherent
powers ; but that those arising from each particular case
be provided for as may be directed by the tribunal ; also
that non-adliei-ent states may bring their cases before it,
on condition of the mutual agreement that the state
against which judgment shall be found shall pay, in ad-
dition to the judgment, the expenses of the adjudication.

The seventh article makes provision for an appeal,
within three months after the notification of the decision,
upon presentation of evidence that the judgment contains
a substantial error of fact or law.

The eighth and final article provides that the treaty
shall become operative when nme sovereign states, where-
of at least six shall have taken part in the conference of
The Hague, shall have ratified its provisions.

It turns out that, ours is the only delegation which
has anything like a full and carefully adjusted plan for
a court of arbitration. The English delegation, though
evidently exceedingly desirous that a system of arbitra-
tion be adopted, has come without anything definitely


drawn. The Russians have a scheme ; but, so far as can
be learned, there is no provision in it for a permanent

In the evening there was a general assemblage of the
members of the conference at a reception given by Jonk-
heer van Karnebeek, formerly Dutch minister of foreign
affau^s, and now first delegate from the Netherlands to
tlie conference. It was very brilliant, and I made many
interesting acquaintances ; but, probably, since the world
began, never has so large a body come together in a
spirit of more hopeless skepticism as to any good result.
Though no one gives loud utterance to this feeling, it is
none the less deep. Of course, among all these delegates
acquainted with public men and measures in Europe,
there is considerable distrust of the intentions of Russia ;
and, naturally, the weakness of the Russian Emperor is
well understood, though all are reticent regarding it. The
only open utterances are those attributed to one or two
of the older European diplomatists, who lament being
sent on an errand which they fear is to be fruitless. One
of these is said to have bewailed this mission as a sad end-
ing to his public services, and to have declared that as
he had led a long life of devotion to his country and to
its sovereign, his family miglit well look upon his career
as honorable; but that now lie is probably doomed to
crown it with an open failure.

May 18.

At two o'clock in the afternoon the conference held its
open session at the " House in the Wood." The build-
ing is most interesting, presenting as it does the art and
general ideas of two hundred and fifty years ago ; it is


full of historical associations, and the groves and gar-
dens about it are delightful. The walls and dome of the
great central hall are covered with immense paintings in
the style of Rubens, mainly by his pupils ; and, of these,
one over the front entrance represents Peace descending
from heaven, bearing various symbols and, apparently,
entering the hall. To this M. de Beaufort, our honorary
president, the Netherlands minister of foreign affairs,
made a graceful allusion in his opening speech, express-
ing the hope that Peace, having entered the hall, would
go forth bearing blessings to the world. Another repre-
sentation, which covers one immense wall, is a glorifica-
tion of various princes of Orange : it is in full front of
me, as I sit, the Peace fresco being visible at my left, and
a lovely view of the gardens, and of the water beyond,
through the windows at my right.

The " House in the Wood " was built early in the
seventeenth century by a princess of the house of
Orange, the grandmother of William III of England.
The central hall under the dome, above referred to, is
now filled up with seats and desks, covered with green
cloth, very neat and practical, and mainly arranged like
those in an English college chapel. Good fortune has
given me one of the two best seats in the house ; it being
directly in front of the secretaries, who are arranged in
a semicircle just below the desk of the president ; at my
left are the other members of our delegation, and facing
me, across the central aisle, is Count Mlinster, at the
head of the German delegation. This piece of good luck
comes from the fact that we are seated in the alpha-
betical order of our countries, beginning with AUemagne,
continuing with Amerique, and so on down the alphabet.


The other large rooms on the ruaiu floor are exceed-
ingly handsome, with superb Japanese and Chinese hang-
ings, wrought about the middle of the last century to
fit the , spaces tliey occupy ; on all sides are the most
perfect specimens of Japanese and Chinese bronzes,
ivory carvings, lacquer work, and the like: these rooms
are given up to the committees into which the whole
body is divided. Upstairs is a dining hall in ^^•hich the
Dutch (tovernment serves, every working day, a most
bounteous lunch to us all, and at this tliere is much op-
portunity for informal discussion. Near the main hall
is a sumptuous saloon, hung round with interesting
portraits, one of them being an admirable likeness of
Motley the historian, who was a great favorite of the
late Queen, and frequently her guest in this palace.

Our first session was very interesting; the speech by
the honorary president, M. de Beaufort, above referred to,
was in every way admirable, and that by the president,
!\r. de Staal, thoroughly good. The latter is the Rus-
sian ambassador to London ; I had already met him in
St. Petersburg, and found him interesting and agreeable.
He is, no doubt, one of the foremost diplomatists of this
epoch ; but he is evidently without much knowledge
of parliamentary procedure. Congratulatory telegrams
were received from the Emperor of Russia and the
Queen of the Netherlands and duly answered.

3Ia)j 7,9.

At eleven in the morning, in one of the large rooms
of the hotel, the presidents of delegations met to decide
on a plan of organization and work ; and, sitting among
them, I first began to have some hopes of a good result.


Still, at the outset, the prospect was much beclouded.
Though a very considerable number of the foremost
statesmen in Europe were present, our deliberations ap-
peared, for a time, a hopeless chaos : the unfamiliarity of
our president, Baron de Staal, with parliamentary usages
seemed likely to become embarrassing ; but sundry states-
men, more experienced in such matters, began drawing
together, and were soon elaborating a scheme to be pre-
sented to the entire conference. It divided all the
subjects named in tlie Muravieff circular among three
great committees, the most important Ijeing that on
"Arbitration." The choice of representatives on these
from our delegation was made, and an ex-ofticio mem-
bership of all three falls to me.

In the course of the day I met and talked with various
interesting men, among them Count Nigra, formerly Ca-
vour's private secretary and ambassador at the court of

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Online LibraryAndrew Dickson WhiteThe first Hague conference → online text (page 1 of 9)