Eustace Percy Percy of Newcastle.

The responsibilites of the League online

. (page 5 of 20)
Online LibraryEustace Percy Percy of NewcastleThe responsibilites of the League → online text (page 5 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

model on the reservations, but this stage of


segregation was, and is, admittedly only a
temporary expedient. The Federal Govern-
ment has held, and still holds, as trustee for
the Indian tribes thus segregated, lands and
wealth such as perhaps no other nation has
ever placed at the disposal of the savage
races whose country it has occupied ; but
from the passage of the Land Severalty Act
by Congress in 1887, it has been the recognised
policy of the United States to allot this heritage
among the individual Indians as soon as possible,
and the Supreme Court has recognised the right
of the Indian who is " detribalised " to full
citizenship of the United States. There is a
continual pressure for the opening up of the re-
maining reservations ; the Indian territory of
the Five Civilised Tribes has now been absorbed
into the State of Oklahoma, and Mr. Roose-
velt's first Presidential Message in 1901 sums up
what may be roughly taken as the fixed policy
of the country : ' The time has arrived when
we should definitely make up our minds to recog-
nise the Indian as an individual and not as a
member of a tribe. The General Allotment Act
is a mighty pulverising engine to break up the
tribal mass. It acts directly upon the family
and the individual. Under its provisions some
60,000 Indians have already become citizens of
the United States. We should now break up
the tribal funds, doing for them what allot-
ment does for the tribal lands ; that is, they
should be divided into individual holdings/'

Now, be it remarked, the policy thus out-
lined is a policy, not so much of assimilation,


as of abdication. As the Indians lose their
tribal status and attain individual ownership
and citizenship they pass pro tanto from the
sphere of the Federal into that of the State
Governments, and the Federal Government lays
down its responsibilities with a sigh of relief.
This indicates the root feeling of the American
people about the Indian problem. The Indian
policy of the United States has not been with-
out its generosity and its greatness ; but, in-
evitably perhaps, it has accustomed the Ameri-
can people to regard the governing of alien
societies and subject peoples as an intolerable
burden, incongruous in a democracy and to be
laid aside at the first opportunity by such a
policy of assimilation as involves the abdication
of all special responsibilities. At the same
time, the bitter experience of the difficulties
and dangers of such assimilation, the exploita-
tion of the Indian by land sharks and un-
scrupulous lawyers, the consequent necessity
of imposing restrictions on the right of Indians
to lease or alienate their allotments, and the
continual attempt of the encroaching interests
to corrupt the administration of Indian affairs
all this had tended to awaken in the
American people the strongest possible dis-
taste for any contact whatever with primitive

But this distaste, though to some extent
attributable to the history of her dealings with
the Indian, has been stamped deep on the
character of America by the memories of the
other race problem which she has had to face.


The well-known history of the negro problem
need not be recapitulated here, but Europeans
seldom sufficiently recognise how the conscious-
ness of failure to solve it by the application of the
fundamental theories of the constitution has
poisoned and darkened the whole outlook of
Americans on colonial questions. When the
Vice-President of the Confederacy voiced the
opinion of the South that " the corner-stone of
our new government rests upon the great truth
that the negro is not equal to the white man ;
that slavery, subordination to the superior race,
is his nature and normal condition/' the whole
conscience of the democracy rose in revolt.
In one of Charles Eliot Norton's letters, dated
October 2nd, 1865, there is expressed the proud
confidence in the universal application of the
democratic theory, not only as a means of
government but as a means of education towards
government, which inspired the North both
during and after the war : " The reasons for
giving the right of suffrage to the freedmen are
as strong as they are numerous, are reasons
based upon policy as well as upon principle.
I think Negro suffrage could have been easily
secured at the end of the war by wise and
far-seeing statesmanship . . . and that it would
have been found the most powerful instrument
for elevating and educating the blacks, for mak-
ing them helpful and advancing citizens of the
republic, and for introducing a better civilisa-
tion and a truer social order than has hitherto
existed at the South/' Americans could not
realise how utterly incomprehensible such' a


view appeared at the time outside America
so incomprehensible that the only construc-
tion which The Times could put on Lincoln's
Emancipation proclamation was that it was
an incitement to all the barbarities of a ser-
vile war. The negro might be recognised as
an auxiliary, but only madmen could regard
him as a potential citizen. And, as a matter
of fact, the bitter disillusionment of the recon-
struction period largely destroyed the con-
fidence expressed by Norton and has never
been forgotten by the American people. After
fifty years the vastly greater part of the negro
population of the country remains disfran-
chised, and the sons of the men who died to
abolish slavery could in many instances barely
be persuaded to use even their votes to-day to
reverse the ingenious disfranchisement clauses
of the constitutions of the Southern States. The
continual preoccupation created for American
statesmen until recently by the chronic anarchy
in Hayti and San Domingo, the reports of a
state of anarchy hardly less intolerable in
Martinique, the unsatisfactory character of the
Liberian experiment set on foot by an American
society in 1821, have all gone to strengthen this
feeling. Thinking men in the United States
recognise with something like shame that, after
all, they must subscribe to the spirit, if not to the
letter, of Stephen's dictum already quoted, and
that what peace and hope there is in the negro
question at the present moment is due to
the renunciation by a large section of the
negroes themselves of those aspirations for full


citizenship which were held out to them fifty
years ago.

The Indian and negro problems thus illustrate
both the uncompromising nature of the experi-
ment to which the United States was committed
by its constitution in dealing with alien societies,
and also the disgust and weariness excited by
the initial failure of that experiment. But the
constitutional difficulty has had other effects.
There has been a continual controversy as to
the power of the United States under the consti-
tution to annex new territory, and as to the
constitutional status of such territory after
annexation. It would take too long here to
go into this complicated question of consti-
tutional law. Jefferson wished for the passage
of a constitutional amendment authorising
the annexation of Louisiana in 1803, and
though he eventually carried out the annexa-
tion without such an amendment, he con-
sidered his action as being a straining of the
constitution. In every subsequent case of an-
nexation the same controversy has arisen.
Though the Supreme Court early decided that
" the Government of the Union . . . possesses
the power of acquiring territory either by con-
quest or by treaty," doubts as to the wisdom
or constitutionality of new annexations delayed
alike the incorporation of the Republic of Texas
in the middle of the nineteenth century and
the annexation of Hawaii at its close, while the
acquisition of the Philippines and Porto Rico
after the Spanish war gave rise to years of bitter
controversy. It was practically decided by


the Supreme Court in the so-called " Insular
Cases " in 1901 that the United States has
power to annex territories without necessarily
extending to them the constitution and laws
of the United States, and that Congress in legis-
lating for those territories is not bound by all
the provisions of the constitution. But the
incompatibility of this doctrine with the original
theory of the constitution was keenly felt,
and public discussion on the subject was still a
live issue, especially in the Middle West, when
' liberalism " -to use a phrase only lately im-
ported into American politics came into power
with Mr. Wilson in 1913. It was always sus-
pected by liberals that the Supreme Court had
been moved in the matter, less by strict adher-
ence to the principles of the constitution than
by considerations of policy and even by the
pressure of powerful business interests. The
doctrine that, to quote the words of the Philip-
pine Commission in 1900, the Filipinos were
" disqualified, in spite of their mental gifts
and domestic virtues, to undertake the task of
governing the archipelago at the present time,"
involved consequences against which liberal
opinion in the United States has always been
disposed to protest most violently. The Demo-
cratic platform of 1900 stated that " we hold
that the constitution follows the flag, and
denounce the doctrine that an executive or
Congress, deriving their existence and their
powers from the constitution, can exercise lawful
authority beyond it, or in violation of it." Both
this platform and every pronouncement of


Democratic policy up to the outbreak of the
European War advocated the early restoration
of Philippine independence. The address of the
present Governor-General of the Islands on his
landing at Manila in 1913 reaffirmed those pro-
nouncements by the statement that " every
step we take will be taken with a view to the
ultimate independence of the islands and as a
preparation for their independence/' The legis-
lation passed by Congress since that time has
committed the United States to that policy.

If, then, the Government of the United States
has practically accepted the doctrine of inferior
races ; if it has shown by a century of annexa-
tions covering Louisiana, Florida, the Mexican
cession of 1848, the Gadsden Purchase of 1853,
the Alaska purchase of 1867, the Hawaiian
annexation of 1898, the annexation of the
Philippines and Porto Rico, the establishment
of naval bases in Cuba and Nicaraguan territory,
and the acquisition, under one form or another,
of the Panama Canal Zone, Hayti, and San
Domingo, that it has no objection to expansion
for strategic, commercial, or humanitarian ob-
jects ; if from time to time, and especially at
such moments as the fall of Maximilian's Empire
and the Huerta revolution, important sections
of American opinion have urged the annexation
of the north-western provinces of Mexico down
to the Gulf of California, and if some Americans,
like General Beale in the sixties, have not
scrupled to render active aid to Mexican revo-
lutionists with this end in view ; if, in short,
the United States has often acted as all other


governments have acted in the expansion of its
territory yet, in spite of all this, there remains
even now a strong feeling in the country that
the creation of anything in the nature of a
permanent dependency is incompatible with
constitutional theory. Both Hawaii and Porto
Rico have been commonly thought capable of
developing into full statehood in time ; Hawaii
is already a territory on the same footing as
Alaska, falling under the Department of the
Interior and sending delegates to party conven-
tions, while the formal grant of United States
citizenship to the inhabitants of Porto Rico,
after having long been advocated, has been
finally carried out by the law of 1915. The
Philippines are thus, according to this view, the
only grave offenders against the spirit of the
constitution, and consequently the annexation
of these islands is still to the " strict con-
structionists " of the United States constitution
what even such a conservative as Senator
Spooner confessed it to be in 1899 " one of the
bitter fruits of the war." Here there has been
practically no question of assimilation or abdi-
cation by the grant of full United States citizen-
ship, and independence has therefore been re-
garded as the only escape from irksome and
anomalous responsibilities.

But if the early experience and constitutional 1
principles of the United States have thus
predisposed her against expansion, there was a
third influence during the preparatory period of
the nineteenth century which has prevented her
from adopting a " little American " policy and


has eventually brought her face to face with
the very responsibilities she is so unwilling to
assume. The Monroe Doctrine was originally
adopted for purposes of defence. It aimed
at perpetuating the status quo, and it therefore
not only protected the emancipated states of
South America, but also acted as a guarantee
of the remaining European colonies in the
western hemisphere. When it seemed pos-
sible that Cuba might pass into the hands of
some other European country, American states-
men repeatedly interposed their veto on such a
scheme, and in 1843 Webster, as Secretary of
State, assured the Spanish Government that, in
any attempt to wrest Cuba from her, " she might
securely rely upon the whole naval and military
resources of this country to aid her in preserving
or recovering it." The originators of the Doc-
trine would, indeed, probably have desired that
it should remain a policy of pure strategic
expediency, but their successors expanded its
meaning and changed its application. Even as
originally promulgated it contained the germ
of a lofty democratic principle in that it men-
tioned the " system " of the European Powers.
This germ grew rapidly. It was but a step to
the point where Americans assumed that this
" system/ 1 quite apart from its momentary
embodiment in the Holy Alliance, was radically,
permanently, and on grounds of principle in-
compatible with the " American system," and
that it was therefore incumbent on all good
Americans to oppose it wherever it might be
found. This growth of the Doctrine came


insensibly. Polk expanded it to meet the
exigencies of the Oregon boundary dispute, and
by 1895, when Cleveland appealed to it in the
case of the Venezuelan frontier, it had come to
imply a claim on the part of the United States to
a kind of " primacy " in the affairs, both do-
mestic and external, of the two American
continents. But this very expansion of the Doc-
trine tended to merge it in another policy. The
advanced position thus taken up was untenable
by the United States alone. The appeal to an
" American system " necessitated the creation
of such a system. The United States could
not uphold a series of South American dictator-
ships as constituting a system so much better
than that of Europe as to be worth defending
on grounds of principle. Hence, after earlier
rudimentary efforts, came the initiation of the
" Pan-American " movement, dating roughly
from the meeting of the first International
American Congress at Washington in 1889-90.

Such were, in brief, the motives and feelings
with which the United States entered the field
of world policy after the Spanish War. Her
course since then has followed closely enough
the lines laid down for her by the circumstances
of her own growth.

Her first problem was Cuba. She had pro-
claimed that she would not annex the island ;
she repeated that undertaking at the close of
the war, and she carried it out. She took over
Cuba from the Spaniards for the purpose of
creating " a stable government administered by
the Cuban people, republican in form, and


competent to discharge the obligations of inter-
national relationship and to be entitled to a
place in the family of nations." Her method
of gaining that end was, in outline, as follows :
She appointed an American military administra-
tion and fixed a suffrage in consultation with
leading Cubans. She placed the arrangements
for a municipal election on the basis of that
suffrage in the hands of the Cubans themselves.
She then held a general election on the same
basis for the nomination of a constitutional
convention, leaving that convention to draw
up a constitution and a definitive electoral law
under the chairmanship of the American gov-
ernor. She waited till the constitution had
been set in motion by the holding of a general
election for the President and Legislature, and
then withdrew completely from the island (on
May 2oth, 1902) leaving the Cuban Government
definitely established.

It will be seen that the instinct of the United
States was to confine her activities to advice,
influence, and encouragement. Ostensibly the
only function she discharged directly in Cuba
was that of transitional administrator. She
devoted herself to sanitation, to the construction
of public works, to police duties, and to the relief
of distress in an island just emerging from a state
of chronic disorder. But, as a matter of fact,
she really went further. The constitution was
indeed drawn up by Cubans, but it was drawn
up after the American model and under the in-
fluence of American ideas. Moreover, after the
constitution had been drawn up in February,


1901, more than a year before the evacuation,
the United States refused to approve it except
upon conditions which she presented to the
constitutional convention through the American
Governor. The convention at first demurred
to them, but after protracted negotiations it at
last consented to embody them in the constitu-
tion. These conditions were the eight clauses
commonly known as the " Platt amendment."
They forbade the Government of Cuba to con-
clude any arrangement with a foreign Power
to the detriment of the independence of the
island or to contract any debt, the interest and
sinking fund on which exceeded the ordinary
revenues of the island after defraying current
expenses. They gave the United States the
right of intervention to preserve the inde-
pendence of Cuba, and to maintain " a govern-
ment adequate for the protection of life,
property, and individual liberty, and for dis-
charging the obligations with respect to Cuba "
contained in the Treaty of Paris. They validated
all acts of the United States administration,
pledged Cuba to continue the work of sanita-
tion, excluded the Isle of Pines from her
boundaries, and pledged her to sell or lease to
the United States naval and coaling stations
to be subsequently agreed on. Finally, Cuba
undertook to embody these provisions in a
permanent treaty with the United States, and
this treaty was duly concluded.

The United States has therefore responsibili-
ties for Cuba. Foreign nations can call on her
to secure their just rights in the island. Cuba


is made a sort of dependency of the United
States, and the United States has shown that
she is fully alive to considerations of what may
be called strategic imperialism, by acquiring
naval stations on the shores of Cuba at Guan-
tanamo and Bahia Honda.

Moreover, the Platt amendment has not
remained a dead letter. In 1906, the United
States made use of her powers under Clause 3
by occupying the island and she remained
there for three years. During this second
occupation she went considerably deeper in
laying the foundations of government than she
had at first attempted to do. The whole of
Cuban law underwent a radical revision, and
when the second evacuation took place in 1909
Americans had become much more keenly con-
scious how serious was the task of securing
good government for the people they had
freed. Many people conversant with Cuban
conditions thought the evacuation premature,
and experience has more or less borne out
their apprehensions. Till 1913 the government
of Cuba remained thoroughly bad. Public
opinion in the United States became increas-
ingly convinced, especially during the negro
risings of 1912, that a third occupation would
be necessary. An improvement has taken place
since the election of President Monocal in 1913,
but a serious doubt has grown up in the mind
of thoughtful Americans whether their policy
is really adequate. Cuba is a ward, she is not
wholly and solely responsible for her own
actions, she has recognised the United States


as her guardian. But this guardianship is only
potential. In ordinary times it is in abeyance
and takes no stronger reform than that of
diplomatic lectures.

Nevertheless, the United States has appealed
and still appeals to her record in Cuba as an
illustration and earnest of her policy in dealing
with backward countries and with her neigh-
bours in Latin America generally. In the words
of President Roosevelt, in 1902, just before the
first evacuation : ' As a nation we have an
especial right to take honest pride in what we
have done for Cuba. Our critics, abroad and
at home, have insisted that we never intended
to leave the island. But on the 2oth of next
month Cuba becomes a free republic, and we
turn over to the islands the control of their
own government. It would be very difficult
to find a parallel in the conduct of any other
great state that has occupied such a position
as ours." Cuba thus represents to the average
American a new policy, different from that of
the older nations. He does not feel the same
with regard to Porto Rico or the Philippines.
In Porto Rico the United States has, indeed,
pursued a most liberal and progressive policy.
She began by giving an increasing share in
government to the inhabitants of the islands.
While she reserved the executive machinery
almost wholly to herself, she gave to Porto
Ricans five out of eleven places on the execu-
tive council and three out of five places on
the bench of the Supreme Court, as well as
a House of Delegates of thirty-five members


elected on a franchise as popular as the con-
ditions of the island permitted. The law of
1915 went beyond this by setting up an elective
Senate in addition to the House of Delegates,
and transferring from the President to the
Governor the appointment of four out of
the six executive officers the Attorney-General
and the Director of Education being now
the only offices held by Americans. But
this, coupled with the grant of United States
citizenship, is a step not towards independence
but towards statehood, and the expansion of
the Union, while it may solve the question of
Porto Rico and Hawaii, cannot be applied
indefinitely to new territories. The United
States is therefore precluded from appealing to
Porto Rico as a typical example of her colonial
policy. She is even more precluded from
appealing in this way to her record in the
Philippines. She not only avowedly desires the
ultimate independence of the archipelago and
professes to regard her government there as
exceptional and transitional ; she also feels
uncomfortably that the history of her dealing
with the Filipinos, beneficial as they have been,
savours too much of the " white man's burden "
to commend itself wholly to a nation which
has proclaimed a colonial policy different from
that of the rest of the world. She has, indeed,
gone even further in the Philippines than in Porto
Rico. With the single exception of the Governor-
General, practically the whole administration
of the islands is in native hands, and Congress
has solemnly declared that the United States


will retire from the islands as soon as the native
government is fully capable of standing alone.
But it is already evident that this declaration
has not solved the Philippine problem, since
native politicians, while anxious to disprove the
criticism of their present competence which it
implies, do not really wish to stand alone in
the world, or to renounce their claim to the
protection of the American army and navy.

The appeal has thus been to Cuba. In his
message of December 3rd, 1901, President
Roosevelt pointed to Cuba as an illustration of
the Monroe Doctrine : " Our attitude in Cuba
is a sufficient guarantee of our own good faith."
In 1905 he again appealed in a message to the
Cuban example as the justification for the next
step in American " colonial " policy the taking

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryEustace Percy Percy of NewcastleThe responsibilites of the League → online text (page 5 of 20)