Page images



or not involving honor or vital interest, might be attempted. In his address, he made an assertion which was immediately taken up as indicating a new American policy. His words were:

If now we can negotiate and put through a positive agreement with some great nation to abide the adjudication of an international arbitral court in


issue which can not be settled by negotiation, no matter what it involves, whether honor, territory, or money, we shall have made a long step forward by demonstrating that it is possible for two nations at least to establish as between them the same system of due process of law that exists between individuals under a government.

It seems to be the view of many that it is inconsistent for those of us who advocate any kind of preparation for war or any maintenance of armed force or fortification to raise our voices for peaceful means of settling international controversies. But I think this view is quite unjust and is not practical. We only recognize existing conditions and know that we have not reached a point where war is impossible or out of the question, and do not believe that the point has been reached in which all nations are so constituted that they may not at times violate their national obligations.'

President Taft showed without delay that he was in earnest. The administration announced the intention of negotiating treaties involving the solution of every issue by peaceful methods with two of the great powers. American relations with France had proceeded without a ripple of distrust or serious difference for a century, and there was a mutual admiration between the two republics that made France a natural party to such an agreement. America's relations with the other great English-speaking state, Great Britain, had varied; but the year in which the President spoke had seen the settlement of the last continued and serious difference between the two countries, when the Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration had rendered its decision in the North Atlantic Fisheries controversy. Cordial relations, similarity in institutions, a common language, and like ideals all pointed to Great Britain as another participant in the projected step forward. Great Britain and France were approached and were found to be responsive.

The problem remained to find a formula capable at the same time of realizing what the President had in mind, and of safeguarding the


Proceedings of International Conference under the auspices of the American Society for the Judicial Settlement of International Disputes, Washington, D.C., December 15-17, 1910, 353.

rights of the contracting states. In addressing the Third National Peace Congress at its opening session in Baltimore on May 3, 1911, he hinted at the difficulties confronting the administration:

Your chairman has been good enough to refer to something that I had said with reference to a hope for general arbitration, and the expression of opinion that an arbitration treaty of the widest scope between two great nations would be a very important step in securing the peace of the world. I do not claim any patent on that statement, and I have no doubt that it is shared by all who understand the situation at all. I have no doubt that an important step-if such an arbitration treaty can be concluded—will have been taken, but it will not bring an end of war at once. It is a step, and we must not defeat our purposes by enlarging the expectation of the world as to what is to happen and then disappointing them. In other words, we must look forward with reasonable judgment, and look to such an arbitration treaty as one step, to be followed by other steps as rapidly as possible; but we must realize that we are dealing with a world that is fallible and full of weakness—with some wickedness in it—and that reforms that are worth having are brought about little by little and not by one blow. I do not mean to say by this I am not greatly interested in bringing about the arbitration treaty or treaties that are mentioned, but I do think that we are likely to make more progress if we look forward with reasonable foresight and realize the difficulties that are to be overcome, than if we think we have opened the gate to eternal peace with one key and within one year."

The actual work of negotiation was intrusted to Chandler P. Anderson, counselor of the Department of State. His work was much facilitated by the sympathy for the project evinced by Ambassadors James Bryce of Great Britain and Jules Jusserand of France. Treaties were signed on August 3, 1911, embodying an idea which had first been developed by William Jennings Bryan at the London Conference of the Interparliamentary Union on July 24, 1906. The formula adopted distinguished for the first time in a formal manner between justiciable disputes, to be settled by legal methods, and nonjusticiable disputes, to be resolved by a process of extra-legal and extra-diplomatic investigation. For six months following the publication of these treaties, they were one of the principal subjects of public comment. With tenacious insistence upon its alleged prerogatives, the Senate failed to advise and consent to the ratification

Proceedings of Third National Peace Conference, Baltimore, May 3, 1911, 14-15.

[blocks in formation]

of these treaties, taking the attitude it had previously assumed in the case of the Anglo-American treaty of 1897 and the 1904 series of treaties. After some amendments, based on provincial prejudices which legal experts from that time forward have pronounced to be invalid, the Senate gave the requisite consent. The President did not proceed to the ratification of the treaties, because the extraneous amendments destroyed their full usefulness as world-models. As negotiated the treaties provided:

Art. I. All differences hereafter arising between the High Contracting Parties, which it has not been possible to adjust by diplomacy, relating to international matters in which the High Contracting Parties are concerned by virtue of a claim of right made by one against the other under treaty or otherwise, and which are justiciable in their nature by reason of being susceptible of decision by the application of the principles of law or equity, shall be submitted to the Permanent Court of Arbitration established at The Hague by the Convention of October 18, 1907, or to some other arbitral tribunal, as shall be decided in each case by special agreement..

Art. II. The High Contracting Parties further agree to institute as occasion arises, and as hereinafter provided, a Joint High Commission of Inquiry to which, upon the request of either Party, shall be referred for impartial and conscientious investigation any controversy between the Parties within the scope of Art. I, before such controversy has been submitted to arbitration, and also any other controversy hereafter arising between them even if they are not agreed that it falls within the scope of Art. I; provided, however, that such reference may be postponed until the expiration of one year after the date of the formal request therefor, in order to afford an opportunity for diplomatic discussion and adjustment of the questions in controversy, if either Party desires such postponement.... ART. III. . . It is further agreed, however, that in cases in which the Parties disagree as to whether or not a difference is subject to arbitration under Art. I of this Treaty, that question shall be submitted to the Joint High Commission of Inquiry; and if all or all but one of the members of the Commission agree and report that such difference is within the scope of Art. I, it shall be referred to arbitration in accordance with the provisions of this Treaty.'

President Taft strongly opposed the Senate's attitude at the time, and as an ex-President has many times rebutted its arguments. In his book, The United Slales and Peace, published in 1914, he wrote (pages 112, 115-116):

"As in the consideration of the Hay treaties, so here it was argued that the President and the Senate would unlawfully delegate their treaty-making power if they agreed that a tribunal should finally adjudge that a specific difference, subsequently arising, was in the class of differences covered by the treaty. It is very difficult to argue this question because the answer to it is so plain and ob

"Nevertheless, the Senate struck out the provisions for a decision by the Joint High Commission. I considered this proposition the most important feature of the treaty, and I did so because I felt that we had reached a time in the making of promissory treaties of arbitration when they should mean something. The Senate halted just at the point where a possible and real obligation might be created. I do not wish to minimize the importance of general expressions of good-will and general declarations of willingness to settle everything without war, but the long list of treaties that mean but little can now hardly be made longer, for they include substantially all the countries of the world. The next step is to include something that really binds somebody in a treaty for future arbitration.”


The incident in American national history, however, is not to be counted a failure. It broadened interest in the cause of world organization, and it convinced many in and out of public life that sound advances toward a practical plan for insuring peace were possible. Moreover, it had the effect of bringing the once remote problems of international peace into the sphere of practical politics.

[ocr errors]

THE LARGER GOAL, A LEAGUE OF NATIONS, 1911. President Taft, however, was looking beyond the treaties he attempted to establish as a world model. He made this clear in his public speeches. One of the notable occasions on which he expressed his views was the Citizens' Peace Banquet at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on December 30, 1911. At that time, he definitely foreshadowed the idea of a league of nations, and particularly emphasized the fact that his own treaties and even a full-fledged international arbitral court were to be considered only as steps toward a larger goal. In the course of his remarks, he said:

We have gone on in this present day and generation until we are all in a sense “armed camps”—not so much in this country, because we have two oceans between us and possible danger, but in Europe the burden of armament I need not overstate, because I could not overstate it; and yet any movement for a voluntary disarmament up to this has been a failure, an absolute failure. And why? Because each nation feels that if an international controversy arises, war may follow, and if war does follow, each nation feels it its patriotic duty to be ready to prevent its defeat, its disintegration, and so for safety each nation maintains this armament. Now how are we going to get rid of it? We are never going to get rid of it until we substitute some method of settling international controversies that every nation may rely upon as a certain method of settling them. When you get an arbitral court, supported by the authority and the prestige of all the powerful nations of the earth, under treaties binding

* Treaties, Conventions, etc., 1776-1909, Supplement, 1913, 380-382.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]



every one, then you have a means of settling controversies that every nation may look to with certainty, and until we do get that we shall not get that something which may be substituted for war as a means of settling controversies between nations. Why am I in favor of these treaties? It is because these treaties I regard as the first steps toward the establishment of such an arbitral court."

The idea continued to be dominant in the President's mind during the remainder of his administration. At a luncheon given by the International Peace Forum to him at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on January 4, 1913, he again stated his belief in a way which completely foreshadowed the program of the League to Enforce Peace, of which he has been president since its organization on June 17, 1915. The following statement by the President was more than a declaration of personal views, it was an assertion of state policy:

My own idea was that if we could make those treaties, they would form a basis for a treaty with every other nation by the United States, and then between other nations than the United States, and finally, by interlocking and intertwining all the treaties, we might easily then come to the settlement of all international questions by a court of arbitration, a permanent, well-established court of arbitration, whose powers are to be enforced by the agreement of all nations, and into which any nation may come as a complainant and bring any other nation as a defendant, and compel that defendant nation to answer to the complaint under the rules of law established for international purposes, and under the rules of law which would necessarily, with such a court, grow into a code that would embrace all the higher moral rules of Christian civilization.”

WILSON.—NEW SERIES OF TREATIES INITIATED, 1913. President Wilson succeeded President Taft on March 4, 1913. The effort of his administration to make progress was destined to be successful. The previous administration had failed in an effort to combine the principles of arbitration and the commission of inquiry in a single system of pacific settlement. The new administration decided to leave the 25 existent treaties of arbitration then in force undisturbed, and to negotiate independent treaties establishing permanent commissions of investigation for all questions not properly falling under the arbitration treaties. These treaties for

Peace, March, 1912, 7.

· The Peace Forum, February, 1913, 12.

« PreviousContinue »