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Problems of expansion, as considered in papers and addresses online

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Copyright, 1898, 1900, by



So general have been the expressions as to the value of these scattered
papers and addresses that I have thought it a useful service to gather
them together from the authorized publications at the time, or, in some
cases, from newspaper reports, and (with the consent of the Century Co.
and of Mr. John Lane for the copyrighted articles) to embody them
consecutively, in the order of their several dates, in this volume.

The article entitled "The Territory with which We are Threatened" was
prepared before the appointment of its author as a member of the
Commission to negotiate terms of peace with Spain, and published only a
few days afterward. This circumstance attracted unusual attention to
its views about retaining the territory the country had taken.

As to the attitude of every one else connected officially with the
determination of that question there has been, naturally, more or less
diplomatic reserve; but the position of Mr. Reid before he was
appointed was thus clearly revealed. When the storm of opposition was
apparently reaching its height, in June, 1899, he took occasion to avow
explicitly the course it was obvious he must have recommended. In his
address at the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of Miami University, referring
to some apparently authorized despatches on the subject from
Washington, he said: "I readily take the time which hostile critics
consider unfavorable, for accepting my own share of responsibility, and
for avowing for myself that I declared my belief in the duty and policy
of holding the whole Philippine Archipelago in the very first
conference of the Commissioners in the President's room at the White
House, in advance of any instructions of any sort. If vindication for
it be needed, I confidently await the future."

This measure of responsibility for the expansion policy upon which the
country is launched has necessarily given special interest to Mr.
Reid's subsequent discussions of the various problems it has raised.
They have been called for on important occasions both abroad and in all
parts of our own country. They have covered many phases of the subject,
but have preserved a singular uniformity of purpose and consistency of
ideas throughout. They appeared at times when public men often seemed
to be groping in the dark on an unknown road, but it is now evident
that the road which has been taken is substantially the road they
marked out. As a foreign critic said in comment on one of the
addresses: "The author is one man who knows what he thinks about the
new policy required by the new situation in which his country is
placed, and has the courage and candor to say it."

It has seemed desirable with each paper and address to prefix a brief
record of the circumstances under which it was made. A few memoranda
which Mr. Reid had prepared to elucidate the text are added, in
foot-notes and in the Appendices which include the Resolutions of
Congress as to Cuba, the Protocol of Washington, and the text of the
Peace of Paris.


May 25, 1900.



In "The Century," September, 1898.

At the Lotos Club, New York, February 11, 1899.

At the Marquette Club, Chicago, February 13, 1899.

At the Ohio Society dinner, New York, February 25, 1899.

At the dinner of the American-Asiatic Association,
New York, February 23, 1899.

From "The Anglo-Saxon Review," June, 1899.

Address at the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of Miami
University, June 15, 1899.

At Princeton University, on Commemoration Day,
October 21, 1899.

At the Massachusetts Club, Boston, March 3, 1900.

At the University of California, on Charter Day,
March 23, 1900.

At the Farewell Banquet to the Philippine Commission,
San Francisco, April 12, 1900.









This paper first appeared in "The Century Magazine" for September,
1898, for which it was written some time before the author's
appointment as a member of the Paris Commission to negotiate the terms
of peace with Spain, and, in fact, before hostilities had been
suspended or the peace protocol agreed upon in Washington.


Men are everywhere asking what should be our course about the territory
conquered in this war. Some inquire merely if it is good policy for the
United States to abandon its continental limitations, and extend its
rule over semi-tropical countries with mixed populations. Others ask if
it would not be the wisest policy to give them away after conquering
them, or abandon them. They say it would be ruinous to admit them as
States to equal rights with ourselves, and contrary to the Constitution
to hold them permanently as Territories. It would be bad policy, they
argue, to lower the standard of our population by taking in hordes of
West Indians and Asiatics; bad policy to run any chance of allowing
these people to become some day joint arbiters with ourselves of the
national destinies; bad policy to abandon the principles of
Washington's Farewell Address, to which we have adhered for a century,
and involve ourselves in the Eastern question, or in the entanglements
of European politics.

The men who raise these questions are sincere and patriotic. They are
now all loyally supporting the Government in the prosecution of the war
which some of them were active in bringing on, and others to the last
deprecated and resisted. Their doubts and difficulties deserve the
fairest consideration, and are of pressing importance.

[Sidenote: Duty First, not Policy.]

But is there not another question, more important, which first demands
consideration? Have we the right to decide whether we shall hold or
abandon the conquered territory, solely, or even mainly as a matter of
national policy? Are we not bound by our own acts, and by the
responsibility we have voluntarily assumed before Spain, before Europe,
and before the civilized world, to consider it first in the light of
national duty?

For that consideration it is not needful now to raise the question
whether we were in every particular justifiable for our share in the
transactions leading to the war. However men's opinions on that point
may differ, the Nation is now at war for a good cause, and has in a
vigorous prosecution of it the loyal and zealous support of all good

The President intervened, with our Army and Navy, under the direct
command of Congress, to put down Spanish rule in Cuba, on the distinct
ground that it was a rule too bad to be longer endured. Are we not,
then, bound in honor and morals to see to it that the government which
replaces Spanish rule is better? Are we not morally culpable and
disgraced before the civilized world if we leave it as bad or worse?
Can any consideration of mere policy, of our own interests, or our own
ease and comfort, free us from that solemn responsibility which we have
voluntarily assumed, and for which we have lavishly spilled American
and Spanish blood?

Most people now realize from what a mistake Congress was kept by the
firm attitude of the President in opposing a recognition of the
so-called Cuban Republic of Cubitas. It is now generally understood
that virtually there was no Cuban Republic, or any Cuban government
save that of wandering bands of guerrilla insurgents, probably less
numerous and influential than had been represented. There seems reason
to believe that however bad Spanish government may have been, the rule
of these people, where they had the power, was as bad; and still
greater reason to apprehend that if they had full power, their sense of
past wrongs and their unrestrained tropical thirst for vengeance might
lead to something worse. Is it for that pitiful result that a civilized
and Christian people is giving up its sons and pouring out blood and
treasure in Cuba?

In commanding the war, Congress pledged us to continue our action until
the pacification of the island should be secured. When that happy time
has arrived, if it shall then be found that the Cuban insurgents and
their late enemies are able to unite in maintaining a settled and
peaceable government in Cuba, distinctly free from the faults which now
lead the United States to destroy the old one, we shall have discharged
our responsibility, and will be at liberty to end our interference. But
if not, the responsibility of the United States continues. It is
morally bound to secure to Cuba such a government, even if forced by
circumstances to furnish it itself.

[Sidenote: The Pledge of Congress.]

At this point, however, we are checked by a reminder of the further
action of Congress, "asserting its determination, when the pacification
of Cuba has been accomplished, to leave the government and control of
the island to its people."

Now, the secondary provisions of any great measure must be construed in
the light of its main purpose; and where they conflict, we are led to
presume that they would not have been adopted but for ignorance of the
actual conditions. Is it not evident that such was the case here? We
now know how far Congress was misled as to the organization and power
of the alleged Cuban government, the strength of the revolt, and the
character of the war the insurgents were waging. We have seen how
little dependence could be placed upon the lavish promises of support
from great armies of insurgents in the war we have undertaken; and we
are beginning to realize the difference between our idea of a humane
and civilized "pacification" and that apparently entertained up to this
time by the insurgents. It is certainly true that when the war began
neither Congress nor the people of the United States cherished an
intention to hold Cuba permanently, or had any further thought than to
pacify it and turn it over to its own people. But they must pacify it
before they turn it over; and, from present indications, to do that
thoroughly may be the work of years. Even then they are still
responsible to the world for the establishment of a better government
than the one they destroy. If the last state of that island should be
worse than the first, the fault and the crime must be solely that of
the United States. We were not actually forced to involve ourselves; we
might have passed by on the other side. When, instead, we insisted on
interfering, we made ourselves responsible for improving the situation;
and, no matter what Congress "disclaimed," or what intention it
"asserted," we cannot leave Cuba till that is done without national
dishonor and blood-guiltiness.

[Sidenote: Egypt and Cuba.]

The situation is curiously like that of England in Egypt. She
intervened too, under far less provocation, it must be admitted, and
for a cause rather more commercial than humanitarian. But when some
thought that her work was ended and that it was time for her to go,
Lord Granville, on behalf of Mr. Gladstone's government, addressed the
other great European Powers in a note on the outcome of which Congress
might have reflected with profit before framing its resolutions.
"Although for the present," he said, "a British force remains in Egypt
for the preservation of public tranquillity, Her Majesty's government
are desirous of withdrawing it as soon as the state of the country and
the organization of proper means for the maintenance of the Khedive's
authority will admit of it. In the meantime the position in which Her
Majesty's government are placed towards His Highness imposes upon them
the duty of giving advice, with the object of securing that the order
of things to be established shall be of a satisfactory character and
possess the elements of stability and progress." As time went on this
declaration did not seem quite explicit enough; and accordingly, just a
year later, Lord Granville instructed the present Lord Cromer, then Sir
Evelyn Baring, that it should be made clear to the Egyptian ministers
and governors of provinces that "the responsibility which for the time
rests on England obliges Her Majesty's government to insist on the
adoption of the policy which they recommend, and that it will be
necessary that those ministers and governors who do not follow this
course should cease to hold their offices."

That was in 1884 - a year after the defeat of Arabi, and the
"pacification." It is now fourteen years later. The English are still
there, and the Egyptian ministers and governors now understand quite
well that they must cease to hold their offices if they do not adopt
the policy recommended by the British diplomatic agent. If it should be
found that we cannot with honor and self-respect begin to abandon our
self-imposed task of Cuban "pacification" with any greater speed, the
impetuous congressmen, as they read over their own inconsiderate
resolutions fourteen years hence, can hide their blushes behind a copy
of Lord Granville's letter. They may explain, if they like, with the
classical excuse of Benedick, "When I said I would die a bachelor, I
did not think I should live till I were married." Or if this seems too
frivolous for their serious plight, let them recall the position of Mr.
Jefferson, who originally declared that the purchase of foreign
territory would make waste paper of the Constitution, and subsequently
appealed to Congress for the money to pay for his purchase of
Louisiana. When he held such an acquisition unconstitutional, he had
not thought he would live to want Louisiana.

As to Cuba, it may be fairly concluded that only these points are
actually clear: (1) We had made ourselves in a sense responsible for
Spain's rule in that island by our consistent declaration, through
three quarters of a century, that no other European nation should
replace her - Daniel Webster, as Secretary of State, even seeking to
guard her hold as against Great Britain. (2) We are now at war because
we say Spanish rule is intolerable; and we cannot withdraw our hand
till it is replaced by a rule for which we are willing to be
responsible. (3) We are also pledged to remain till the pacification is

[Sidenote: The Conquered Territories.]

In the other territories in question the conditions are different. We
are not taking possession of them, as we are of Cuba, with the avowed
purpose of giving them a better government. We are conquering them
because we are at war with Spain, which has been holding and governing
them very much as she has Cuba; and we must strike Spain wherever and
as hard as we can. But it must at once be recognized that as to Porto
Rico at least, to hold it would be the natural course and what all the
world would expect. Both Cuba and Porto Rico, like Hawaii, are within
the acknowledged sphere of our influence, and ours must necessarily be
the first voice in deciding their destiny. Our national position with
regard to them is historic. It has been officially declared and known
to every civilized nation for three quarters of a century. To abandon
it now, that we may refuse greatness through a sudden craven fear of
being great, would be so astonishing a reversal of a policy steadfastly
maintained by the whole line of our responsible statesmen since 1823 as
to be grotesque.

John Quincy Adams, writing in April of that year, as Secretary of
State, to our Minister to Spain, pointed out that the dominion of Spain
upon the American continents, North and South, was irrevocably gone,
but warned him that Cuba and Porto Rico still remained nominally
dependent upon her, and that she might attempt to transfer them. That
could not be permitted, as they were "natural appendages to the North
American continent." Subsequent statements turned more upon what Mr.
Adams called "the transcendent importance of Cuba to the United
States"; but from that day to this I do not recall a line in our state
papers to show that the claim of the United States to control the
future of Porto Rico as well as of Cuba was ever waived. As to Cuba,
Mr. Adams predicted that within half a century its annexation would be
indispensable. "There are laws of political as well as of physical
gravitation," he said; and "Cuba, forcibly disjoined from its own
unnatural connection with Spain, and incapable of self-support, can
gravitate only towards the North American Union, which, by the same law
of nature, cannot cast her off from its bosom." If Cuba is incapable of
self-support, and could not therefore be left, in the cheerful language
of Congress, to her own people, how much less could little Porto Rico
stand alone?

There remains the alternative of giving Porto Rico back to Spain at the
end of the war. But if we are warranted now in making war because the
character of Spanish rule in Cuba was intolerable, how could we justify
ourselves in handing back Porto Rico to the same rule, after having
once emancipated her from it? The subject need not be pursued. To
return Porto Rico to Spain, after she is once in our possession, is as
much beyond the power of the President and of Congress as it was to
preserve the peace with Spain after the destruction of the _Maine_ in
the harbor of Havana. From that moment the American people resolved
that the flag under which this calamity was possible should disappear
forever from the Western hemisphere, and they will sanction no peace
that permits it to remain.

The question of the Philippines is different and more difficult. They
are not within what the diplomatists of the world would recognize as
the legitimate sphere of American influence. Our relation to them is
purely the accident of recent war. We are not in honor bound to hold
them, if we can honorably dispose of them. But we know that their
grievances differ only in kind, not in degree, from those of Cuba; and
having once freed them from the Spanish yoke, we cannot honorably
require them to go back under it again. That would be to put us in an
attitude of nauseating national hypocrisy; to give the lie to all our
professions of humanity in our interference in Cuba, if not also to
prove that our real motive was conquest. What humanity forbade us to
tolerate in the West Indies, it would not justify us in re√Ђstablishing
in the Philippines.

What, then, can we do with them? Shall we trade them for something
nearer home? Doubtless that would be permissible, if we were sure of
thus securing them a better government than that of Spain, and if it
could be done without precipitating fresh international difficulties.
But we cannot give them to our friend and their neighbor Japan without
instantly provoking the hostility of Russia, which recently interfered
to prevent a far smaller Japanese aggrandizement. We cannot give them
to Russia without a greater injustice to Japan; or to Germany or to
France or to England without raising far more trouble than we allay.
England would like us to keep them; the Continental nations would like
that better than any other control excepting Spain's or their own; and
the Philippines would prefer it to anything save the absolute
independence which they are incapable of maintaining. Having been led
into their possession by the course of a war undertaken for the sake of
humanity, shall we draw a geographical limit to our humanity, and say
we cannot continue to be governed by it in Asiatic waters because it is
too much trouble and is too disagreeable - and, besides, there may be no
profit in it?

Both war and diplomacy have many surprises; and it is quite possible
that some way out of our embarrassing possession may yet be found. The
fact is clear that many of our people do not much want it; but if a way
of relinquishing it is proposed, the one thing we are bound to insist
on is that it shall be consistent with our attitude in the war, and
with our honorable obligations to the islands we have conquered and to

[Sidenote: Fear of them as States.]

The chief aversion to the vast accessions of territory with which we
are threatened springs from the fear that ultimately they must be
admitted into the Union as States. No public duty is more urgent at
this moment than to resist from the very outset the concession of such
a possibility. In no circumstances likely to exist within a century
should they be admitted as States of the Union. The loose, disunited,
and unrelated federation of independent States to which this would
inevitably lead, stretching from the Indian Archipelago to the
Caribbean Sea, embracing all climes, all religions, all races, - black,
yellow, white, and their mixtures, - all conditions, from pagan
ignorance and the verge of cannibalism to the best product of centuries
of civilization, education, and self-government, all with equal rights
in our Senate and representation according to population in our House,
with an equal voice in shaping our national destinies - that would, at
least in this stage of the world, be humanitarianism run mad, a
degeneration and degradation of the homogeneous, continental Republic
of our pride too preposterous for the contemplation of serious and
intelligent men. Quite as well might Great Britain now invite the
swarming millions of India to send rajas and members of the lower
House, in proportion to population, to swamp the Lords and Commons and
rule the English people. If it had been supposed that even Hawaii, with
its overwhelming preponderance of Kanakas and Asiatics, would become a
State, she could not have been annexed. If the territories we are
conquering must become States, we might better renounce them at once
and place them under the protectorate of some humane and friendly
European Power with less nonsense in its blood.

This is not to deny them the freest and most liberal institutions they
are capable of sustaining. The people of Sitka and the Aleutian Islands
enjoy the blessings of ordered liberty and free institutions, but
nobody dreams of admitting them to Statehood. New Mexico has belonged
to us for half a century, not only without oppression, but with all the
local self-government for which she was prepared; yet, though an
integral part of our continent, surrounded by States, and with an
adequate population, she is still not admitted to Statehood. Why should
not the people on the island of Porto Rico, or even of Cuba, prosper
and be happy for the next century under a rule similar in the main to
that under which their kinsmen of New Mexico have prospered for the
last half-century?

With some necessary modifications, the territorial form of government
which we have tried so successfully from the beginning of the Union is
well adapted to the best of such communities. It secures local
self-government, equality before the law, upright courts, ample power
for order and defense, and such control by Congress as gives security
against the mistakes or excesses of people new to the exercise of these

[Sidenote: Will the Constitution Permit Withholding Statehood?]

But such a system, we are told, is contrary to our Constitution and to
the spirit of our institutions. Why? We have had just that system ever

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Online LibraryWhitelaw ReidProblems of expansion, as considered in papers and addresses → online text (page 1 of 15)