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military system on the world, or on any people; and when the Allies have succeeded in so doing, they, and any other peoples that sincerely desire a better and more peaceful world, must solemnly resolve that no such catastrophe shall occur again. For this purpose they must not split apart into discordant fragments or hostile groups, but must combine to police the world, and bring in a reign of international justice among men.
We often boast that we are both an idealistic and a practical people, and in the re-organization that will follow this war we have the only chance we shall probably ever have to show these qualities on a world-wide scale. We are now a world power engaged in a world war, and we cannot, by shrinking into ourselves when it is over, evade our duty or shut our eyes to our own future security. In league with the other free nations of the earth we must set up an international court of justice, and a sheriff armed with such force as may be needed to summon offenders before the tribunal. By so doing we can fulfil a great destiny for our nation and bring peace and good-will among men.
MILESTONES OF HALF A CENTURY
What Presidents and Congress have done to bring about a
League of Nations
While the friends of peace and the advocates of international organization were trying to persuade the American people that it would be the duty of the country, after the war, to enter a League of Nations to insure peace and justice throughout the world, the President and Congress of the United States suddenly cut the discussion short by announcing that it was the duty of the nation to enter such a league during the war, and fight to realize these ideals. In the words of the Secretary of War—“Our Combined armies from now on will represent a League of Nations to enforce peace with justice.”
The inexorable logic of events had moved faster even than the logic of the propagandists. They got more than they asked for sooner than they expected it. Not a few critics looked upon this enthusiasm for a league of nations to insure peace and justice throughout the world as an abrupt change of national policy. It seems worth while, therefore, to follow the successive steps by which, during half a century, the President and Congress of the United States have steadily advanced toward the position they now hold.
GRANT AND THE ALABAMA SETTLEMENT, 1871. The arbitration of the Alabama claims, resulting in an award of damages of $15,500,000 to the United States and removing acute causes of unfriendliness between two great nations, one of which had just won a great war, created a tremendous impression throughout the world.
President Grant accurately reflected the thought of the time when he wrote in his third annual message of December 4, 1871:
The year has been an eventful one in witnessing two great nations, speaking one language and having one lineage, settling by peaceful arbitration disputes of long standing and liable at any time to bring those nations into bloody and costly conflict. An example has thus been set which, if successful in its final issue, may be followed by other civilized nations, and finally be the means of returning to productive industry millions of men now maintained to settle the disputes of nations by the bayonet and the broadside."
THE SUMNER RESOLUTIONS, 1872-1874. The general enthusiasm for the newly demonstrated method of pacific settlement found expression in many popular memorials to Congress. These found a champion in Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts. In May, 1872, he sought Congressional approval for the establishment of an international tribunal before which “any question or agreement which might be the occasion of war or of misunderstanding between nations could be considered”; a tribunal whose true character should be such "that its authority and completeness as a substitute for war may not be impaired, but strengthened and upheld, to the end that civilization may be advanced and war be limited in its sphere.” The senator apparently contemplated a tribunal invested with sanctions. For two years this resolution was pending before Congress.
The Sumner resolution was introduced in the Senate May 31, 1872, and so aptly reflected the prevailing feeling among those then concerned with improving international relations that it is quoted in full:
RESOLUTIONS CONCERNING ARBITRATION AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR WAR IN
DETERMINING DIFFERENCES BETWEEN NATIONS. Whereas, by international law and existing custom war is recognized as a form of trial for the determination of differences between nations; and
Whereas, for generations good men have protested against the irrational character of this arbitrament, where force instead of justice prevails, and have anxiously sought for a substitute in the nature of a judicial tribunal, all of which was expressed by Franklin in his exclamation: “when will mankind be convinced that all wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous, and agree to settle their differences by arbitration?” and
Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 4097.
SUMNER RESOLUTIONS, 1872–1874
Whereas, war once prevailed in the determination of differences between individuals, between cities, between counties, and between provinces, being recognized in all these cases as the arbiter of justice, but at last yielded to a judicial tribunal, and now, in the progress of civilization, the time has come for the extension of this humane principle to nations, so that their differences may be taken from the arbitrament of war, and, in conformity with these examples, submitted to a judicial tribunal; and
Whereas, arbitration has been formally recognized as a substitute for war in the determination of differences between nations, being especially recommended by the Congress of Paris, where were assembled the representatives of England, France, Russia, Prussia, Austria, Sardinia, and Turkey, and afterward adopted by the United States in formal treaty with Great Britain for the determination of differences arising from depredations of British cruisers, and also from opposing claims with regard to the San Juan boundary; and
Whereas, it becomes important to consider and settle the true character of this beneficent tribunal, thus commended and adopted, so that its authority and completeness as a substitute for war may not be impaired, but strengthened and upheld, to the end that civilization may be advanced and war be limited in its sphere: Therefore,
1. Resolved, That in the determination of international differences arbitration should become a substitute for war in reality as in name, and, therefore, co-extensive with war in jurisdiction, so that any question or grievance which might be the occasion of war or of misunderstanding between nations should be considered by this tribunal.
2. Resolved, That any withdrawal from a treaty recognizing arbitration, or any refusal to abide the judgment of the accepted tribunal, or any interposition of technicalities to limit the proceedings, is to this extent a disparagement of the tribunal as a substitute for war, and therefore hostile to civilization.
3. Resolved, That the United States having at heart the cause of peace everywhere, and hoping to help its permanent establishment between nations, hereby recommend the adoption of arbitration as a just and practical method for the determination of international differences, to be maintained sincerely and in good faith, so that war may cease to be regarded as a proper form of trial between nations."
The resolution was acted upon in 1874, when Sumner was no longer alive. On June 9, 1874, Senator Hamlin of Maine presented a report and resolution from the Committee on Foreign Relations, the resolution being considered and agreed to without debate on June 23. This report reads: 2
Cong. Globe, 42nd Cong., 2nd Sess., Part V, 4106-7. The resolution was also introduced on December 1, 1873, without the second resolve, Cong. Record, Vol. 2, Part I, 3.
Sen. Repl. No. 426, 43rd Cong., ist Sess., Cong. Docs., Vol. 1587.
The Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom were referred various petitions praying Congress to provide for the settlement of international difficulties by arbitration, and without a resort to war; and also a "resolution concerning international law for the determination of differences between nations," have given the same careful consideration and beg leave to submit the following resolution:
Resolved, That the United States, having at heart the cause of peace everywhere, and hoping to help its permanent establishment between nations, hereby recommend the adoption of arbitration as a just and practical method for the determination of international differences, to be maintained sincerely and in good faith, so that war may cease to be regarded as a proper form of trial between nations.
In the House of Representatives a similar consideration of the question had been going on. John B. Storm of Pennsylvania had introduced a resolution as early as January 22, 1872. The House delayed action until after the Senate report was made. Then it acted with a rush. On June 17, 1874, Stewart L. Woodford of New York moved to suspend the rules and pass a concurrent resolution, and this was done, the following text being accepted without debate:
Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives, That the President of the United States is hereby authorized and requested to negotiate with all civilized powers who may be willing to enter into such negotiation for the establishment of an international system whereby matters in dispute between different governments agreeing thereto may be adjusted by arbitration, and if possible without recourse to war.?
An hour later Godlove S. Orth of Indiana reported another resolution by unanimous consent from the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and this was also adopted without debate. This declaration of principle reads:
Whereas, war is at all times destructive of the material interests of a people, demoralizing in its tendencies, and at variance with an enlightened public sentiment; and
Whereas, differences between nations should in the interests of humanity and fraternity be adjusted if possible by international arbitration: Therefore,
Resolved, That the people of the United States, being devoted to the policy of peace with all mankind, enjoining its blessings and hop
Cong. Globe, 42nd Cong., 2nd Sess., Part I, 497. Cong. Record, Vol. 2, Part VI, 5114