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document signed on January 11, 1897. This treaty failed to pass the Senate.


In his address to the British memorialists in 1887, President Cleveland had said that he was “sorry to be obliged to confess that the practical side of this question has received but little of my attention." The Government was destined within two years to give that attention to practical methods of solving international disputes which the President had stated was not yet accorded to the problem. James G. Blaine while secretary of state in 1881 had invited the governments of the American nations to participate in a congress to be held in Washington "for the purpose of considering and discussing the methods of preventing war between the nations of America.” Before this project was realized, Mr. Blaine was out of office, but he again became secretary of state in 1889 and immediately proceeded to carry out his former project. The International American Conference which assembled in that year was the first of the efforts to make Pan America a solid unit for peaceful development. The conference drew up a complete plan for the arbitration of disputes, consisting of an arbitration treaty, a recommendation to European powers expressing the wish that controversies between American republics and European states might be settled by this method, and, in the third place, a resolution that, for the first time in diplomatic history, attacked the right of conquest. This resolution is an interesting precedent, and reads as follows:

Whereas, there is, in America, no territory which can be deemed res nullius; and

Whereas, in view of this, a war of conquest of one American nation against another would constitute a clearly unjustifiable act of violence and spoliation; and

Whereas, the possibility of aggressions upon national territory would inevitably involve a recourse to the ruinous system of war armaments in time of peace; and

Whereas, the Conference feels that it would fall short of the most exalted conception of its mission were it to abstain from embodying

Negotiations for the treaty began in 1896. On July 8, 1895, the French Chamber of Deputies passed this resolution:

"The Chamber invites the Government to negotiate, as soon as possible, a permanent treaty of arbitration between the French Republic and the Republic of the United States of America.”(Foreign Relations of the United States, 1895, 427; cf. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 6060.)




its pacific and fraternal sentiments in declarations tending to promote national stability and guarantee just international relations among the nations of the continent; Be it therefore

Resolved by the International American Conference, That it earnestly recommends to the Governments therein represented the adoption of the following declarations:

First. That the principle of conquest shall not, during the continuance of the treaty of arbitration, be recognized as admissible under American public law.

Second. That all cessions of territory made during the continuance of the treaty of arbitration shall be void if made under threats of war or in the presence of an armed force.

Third. Any nation from which such cessions shall be exacted may demand that the validity of the cessions so made shall be submitted to arbitration.

Fourth. Any renunciation of the right to arbitration, made under the conditions named in the second section, shall be null and void."

No action resulted from this recommendation so far as a multipartite treaty was concerned. But the recommendations had their effect in the conduct of foreign relations, and their influence on the Brazilian constitution of February 24, 1891, appears in this article:

Art. 34. The National Congress shall have exclusive power:

II. To authorize the Government to declare war, when arbitration has failed or cannot take place, and to make peace.


President Harrison in his message of December 3, 1889, had said concerning the Pan American conference:

It is a matter of high significance and no less of congratulation that the first year of the second century of our constitutional existence finds as honored guests within our borders the representatives of all the independent states of North and South America met together in earnest conference touching the best methods of perpetuating and expanding the relations of mutual interest and friendliness existing among them. ... But while the commercial results which it is hoped will follow this conference are worthy of pursuit and of the great interests they have excited, it is believed that the crowning benefit will be found in the better securities which may be devised for the

Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 224, 51st Cong., ist Sess., 6.

maintenance of peace among all American nations and the settlement of all contentions by methods that a Christian civilization can approve.

The plan of arbitration adopted by the conference justified the President's expectation, for it has ever since been considered a model. It drew from President Harrison, in his letter of transmittal to the Senate, the remark that ratification of the treaties proposed would “constitute one of the happiest and most hopeful incidents in the history of the Western hemisphere.” The provisions which elicited this commendation are:

Art. I. The republics of North, Central and South America hereby adopt arbitration as a principle of American international law for the settlement of the differences, disputes or controversies that may arise between two or more of them.

Art. II. Arbitration shall be obligatory in all controversies concerning diplomatic and consular privileges, boundaries, territories, indemnities, the right of navigation, and the validity, construction and enforcement of treaties.

Art. III. Arbitration shall be equally obligatory in all cases other than those mentioned in the foregoing article, whatever may be their origin, nature or object, with the single exception mentioned in the next following article.

Art. IV. The sole questions excepted from the provisions of the preceding articles are those which, in the judgment of any one of the nations involved in the controversy, may imperil its independence. In which case, for such nation, arbitration shall be optional; but it shall be obligatory upon the adversary power.

Art. V. All controversies or differences, whether pending or hereafter arising, shall be submitted to arbitration, even though they may have originated in occurrences antedating the present treaty.


In view of President Cleveland's frank confession to the British memorialists in 1887 during his first administration, that he had given little attention to the practical side of arbitration, it is peculiarly interesting to observe that his experience in negotiating the treaty of arbitration of January 11, 1897, with Great Britain had converted him into an ardent champion of the principle. In his letter transmitting the text of that treaty to the Senate, he wrote:

Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 5467-5468.
Sen. Ex. Doc. No. 224, 51st Cong., ist Sess., 2-3.



The provisions of the treaty are the result of long and patient deliberation and represent concessions made by each party for the sake of agreement upon the general scheme.

Though the result reached may not meet the views of the advocates of immediate, unlimited and irrevocable arbitration of all international controversies, it is nevertheless confidently believed that the treaty can not fail to be everywhere recognized as making a long step in the right direction and as embodying a practical working plan by which disputes between the two countries will reach a peaceful adjustment as matter of course and in ordinary routine.

In the initiation of such an important movement it must be expected that some of its features will assume a tentative character looking to a further advance, and yet it is apparent that the treaty which has been formulated not only makes war between the parties to it a remote possibility, but precludes those fears and rumors of war which of themselves too often assume the proportions of national disaster.

It is eminently fitting as well as fortunate that the attempt to accomplish results so beneficent should be initiated by kindred peoples, speaking the same tongue and joined together by all the ties of common traditions and common aspirations. The experiment of substituting civilized methods for brute force as the means of settling international questions of right will thus be tried under the happiest auspices. Its success ought not to be doubtful, and the fact that its ultimate ensuing benefits are not likely to be limited to the two countries immediately concerned should cause it to be promoted all the more eagerly. The examples set and the lessons furnished by the successful operation of this treaty are sure to be felt and taken to heart sooner or later by other nations, and will thus mark the beginning of a new epoch in civilization.

Profoundly impressed as I am, therefore, by the promise of transcendent good which this treaty affords, I do not hesitate to accompany its transmission with an expression of my earnest hope that it may commend itself to the favorable consideration of the Senate.'


Eleven years before he became President, William McKinley had introduced into the House of Representatives a bill authorizing the President to invite delegates of the other American Republics to a conference to “revise, formulate and recommend a precise and definite plan of arbitration for all differences” among them. In his inaugural address on March 4, 1897, President McKinley reverted to the

• Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 6178–6179.


subject again in connection with the treaty with Great Britain which his administration was expected to make effective. In view of the fact that the fate of this treaty illustrates the sinister part which the United States Senate has played in defeating at least three of the most hopeful attempts at international organization, the President's remarks on this occasion are particularly noteworthy:

Arbitration is the true method of settlement of international as well as local or individual differences. It was recognized as the best means of adjustment of differences between employers and employees by the Forty-ninth Congress in 1886, and its application was extended to our diplomatic relations by the unanimous concurrence of the Senate and House of the Fifty-first Congress in 1890. The latter resolution was accepted as the basis of negotiations with us by the British House of Commons in 1893, and upon our invitation a treaty of arbitration between the United States and Great Britain was signed at Washington and transmitted to the Senate for ratification in January last.

Since this treaty is clearly the result of our own initiative, since it has been recognized as the leading feature of our foreign policy throughout our entire national history-the adjustment of difficulties by judicial methods rather than force of arms—and since it presents to the world the glorious example of reason and peace, not passion and war, controlling the relations between two of the greatest nations of the world, an example certain to be followed by others, I respectfully urge the early action of the Senate thereon, not merely as a matter of policy, but as a duty to mankind. The importance and moral influence of the ratification of such a treaty can hardly be overestimated in the cause of advancing civilization. It may well engage the best thought of the statesmen and people of every country, and I cannot but consider it fortunate that it was reserved to the United States to have the leadership in so grand a work."


The treaty which the President discussed so hopefully did not receive the approval of the Senate, and therefore could not be ratified by the executive. This was a disappointment to President McKinley, for in his first annual message, dated December 6, 1897, he said:

International arbitration cannot be omitted from the list of subjects claiming our consideration. Events have only served to strengthen the general views on this question expressed in my inaugural address. The best sentiment of the civilized world is moving toward the settlement of differences between nations

* Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 6242.

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